Study: Americans Grocery Shopping Patterns

What do Americans’ grocery shopping patterns look like during and after the holidays? Recent research from Cornell University studied 207 households from upstate New York for seven months. Working with two regional-grocery store chains, they were able to measure how much Americans spend on less healthy and healthy foods per week. 

Here are their findings: 

  • Households spent about $106 per week on groceries before the holidays and spent about $127 during and after the holidays. 
“People’s eating environments are often altered during the holidays as they attend more parties, eat with friends more frequently, are exposed to leftovers, and have to manage distractions concurrent with making eating decisions.”


  • Households spent about $73 on less healthy food during the holidays and continued to spend a similar amount on unhealthy food in the new year. However, spending on healthy food increased from $49 to $58 during that time period. 
“It is possible in the current study that merely purchasing the healthier items formed a sort-of ‘‘health halo’’ which dubiously fulfilled participants’ goals to purchase healthy foods, and relieved them of any guilt associated with purchasing non-starred items.”
  • People spent the most money on groceries the week before Thanksgiving, during Christmas week and the week before Super Bowl Sunday. Americans spent almost $150 the week before Super Bowl Sunday, beating out Thanksgiving and Christmas expenditures.