Your Typical American: Grocery Shopping

StoreisleI recently found a book called What Americans Really Want…Really: The Truth About Our Hopes, Dreams and Fears. It’s a review of polls (surveys, questions asked to some group) and focus groups (small groups of people who come together to give their opinions about something for a business or a survey company) on Americans and the things they – well, we-like and dislike. One part of the book talks about Americans shopping for food.  Here are some facts about Americans and food that I thought were interesting:

  • Americans spend on average (typically) 25 minutes when they go to a supermarket (food store) to buy food.
  • Although much has been said about the equality of men and women in the United States in the past 30 years, the large majority (70%) of food shoppers are still women. Among married couples, women almost always do the majority of shopping.  (That’s not true in my marriage, let me be quick to add!)
  • About 75% of Americans spend more than $100 a week on groceries (food).
  • When Americans are shopping for food, they try to get the highest quality at the lowest price (but then again, who doesn’t do this in any country?).   Moms tend to (typically, usually) pay more to get higher quality, whereas (but) seniors (older people) do not.
  • Americans say that they shop for groceries several times a week. About a third of Americans say they go to the grocery store five times a week or more, spending about $20 per trip. This seems like an awful lot (too much) to me.  I don’t think I go to the grocery store more than twice a week.
  • More and more Americans are buying organic (grown mostly without chemicals or artificial processing) food. This is especially true in the more politically liberal enclaves (small areas where one particular type of group is the majority) such as Berkeley, California; Boulder, Colorado; and Burlington, Vermont.  Organic is becoming more popular, having grown from a $1 billion a year business in 1992 to a more than $23 billion business in 2008. However, it is still a relatively small percentage of American food sales. The most popular place to buy organic food in large American cities is the store called Whole Foods. It is sometimes jokingly called “Whole Paycheck,” since it is so expensive it will require that you spend all of the money you make each week — that is, all of your paycheck!  (We have several of these stores here in Los Angeles, but I don’t go to them very often – they really are more expensive.)


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31 Responses to Your Typical American: Grocery Shopping

  1. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff,

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Focus groups are a group of people who are chosen among the people in a population as samples who represent the view of the whole population. Population here means the number of individuals (persons) from which a sample are drawn ,or a survey is being conducted. They normaly provide feed back about one specific category like a tv program a campagin and so on.

  2. Peter says:

    Focus group is a group of people.

    Dear Jeff your explanation on the word enclave is a bit vain. I mean ,I didn’t get it. Would you elaborate on it ; seems to be a very interesting word.

    My blog friends Would you help me if you get the concept.

    And also ” Let me be quick to add! ” I didn’t get what it means ; seems like it is a kind of slang.

  3. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff,

    Organic foods are too expensive. The majority of people can’t afford them. As far as I am concerned they are three ,sometimes four times more expensive than non-organic ones. Besides ,it is not that you can find everything on the organic sections. The organic products are limited to a handful of products.

  4. Peter says:

    By the way,almost every weekend and sometimes during the week grocery Srores offer some price-reduced items.I mean, they lower the prices of some products ,so people can get them at lower is a good gesture on their parts.even high end grocery stores follow the flow and break their prices modtly on the basic neccesities like milk,eggs,vegtables,and meat products not on luxury products.

    What they do is :

    Big grocery stores send out flyers that say what products are put on sale on the following weekend or the following days,so people know what is on sale and what is not.they usually distribute those flyers within the area that they cover which is normally two or three neighborhoods. Every week ,I recieve them at the door then I gear up to shop.people who live in a condo or rental building pick them up at their front lobby where flyer guys stack them up.

    It is a very good policy that works very well for student , in particular.

    Sorry,if I make mistake sometimes and misspell something or sometime I don’t make sense at all
    The thing is ,most of the time I compose my comment using an iPhone.the finger touch keyboard on the iPhone is too small and I always hit a couple of buttons at once

  5. Evgene says:

    Dear Jeff, thanks for these interesting facts about grocery shopping in USA.
    I was really interested to read this article. I’m from Russia and I was surprised a lot when I read that more and more Americans prefer organic healthy food. In our country there’s opinion that typical American eats almost always unhealthy food (for example, crisps, hot-dogs, pizza and other fast food and so on). As a result, the majority of American people are overweight.
    Also it’s very interesting that ‘About 75% of Americans spend more than $100 a week on groceries (food).’ In our country we usually spend much less but -of course- the level of salaries and wages is different in USA and Russia. and prices on groceries are different too.
    Thanks for article once again.

  6. Clara says:

    Dear Jeff,
    it have been certainly carried out in Italy a survey of the same kind of yours, but I don’t know the results. General speaking I think the ways and the numbers of times we go to a supermarket are similar to yours. As regards the store, the so-called “discounts”, that years ago were looked on with a certain doubts about an inferior quality, now, before of the crisis too, are going to increase their sells. Other ones are big chain of stores with the same owned by the same person or rather by finance companies. Then there is a particular kind of stores densely spreads, not only in the cities with several branches, but in populated villages too, as consumers’ cooperative whom everyone can become membership paying a little money.
    Ciao and good work

  7. magda says:

    Brazil looks like American way to buy foods in grocery stores. Good article. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. Peter says:


    Here in Canada grocery market is control by a few number of mega grocery cooperations who give authrotization to individuals to run grocery stores under their name in exchange for loyalty fee and some other charges(franchise).they dominated the market throughout the country.

    How about you guys ?

    Do you have franchiser-franchisee deal in your country

    Or all you have a bunch of privetly owned convenient store
    Or better to say corner convenient stores?

  9. roberto says:


    I agree with Peter when he says that the number of mega grocery shops are increasing constantly and little grocery shops are disappearing, because in Spain it happens too. I suppose it is a consequence of a global economic world because this franchise are becoming more and more strong. Howewer, nowadays the grocery products more stolen are white brands (marcas blancas) because they are more cheaper than known brands.

    About franchises, I hate it because they take control of all market. I like to go shopping to little grocerys when I know their owner and I can ask any question and to receive an answer friendly.

    Veyr interesting article, Jeff. I didn´t know the interest of American people in organic foods.

  10. bartleby says:

    Well, we have here in Spain a place for your amusement. It’s called MERCADONA and the people goes everyday for have some fun!!!!

    Despite they don’t need buy nothing(mostly older people) , you can see how they like gather among the corridors in order to provoke some congestions.

    It’s beautiful just go and observe the human condition at this places!

    When you finally walk toward the cash , then you start putting your groceries over the conveyor belt ( is this correct?) behind you some gross-eries pushing you because (of course) the’re in busy.

    ahmmmmm what a “wounderful” world!!!!

  11. Peter says:

    Another weekened, and another hopless effort to make best out of it.

    Dear Jeff ,

    Christmass is in the air , and every day I check the top right corner of your website, first thing in the morning,hoping I can find a gift from you sitting up there in a beautiful wrapp for us.The best gift somebody could possibly recieve the gift of knowledge :”a new course.”

    But ,from the looks of it you haven’t got christmassy yet my affable proff

    Dear Lucy ,

    How about you ? Are you in the mood to spread christmass joy? Oh,you said yes ,that is christmass spirit !

  12. emiliano says:

    I think everywhere is alike in the way of doing groceries shopping, at least in the big cities of our bad called civilizated world. So big spaces where you may be lost for ever, seaching for a good “yogurt” or thinking about which is the best kind of potatos you need to make a roast fish.
    Some times I can see half a kilometer of cheeses and yogurt freezing racks where you may get a cold if you stay more that five seconds looking for the article you wanted.

    I really hate going to the big grocery supermarkets so if it is once a week it is more than enough. But in summer is even worst because outdoors is the hell and indoors you get a cold for sure.

    When I was living in the Mediterranean cost it was so funny going to Mercadona and seeing the girls or women in two pieces bath suit doing the shoopings that I was astonished that they didn´t look having any cold or got freezed as they looked for the meat or yogurts.
    I prefer don´t to tell anything about my feelings if the two pieces girl or woman was a nice looking or sexy one who was so near at the cashes that it was necessary to have some care where you put your eyes or avoid any kind of contact.
    In fact I didn´t like these stories because there were too much people inside doing what?…I don´t know, but I can imagine and I was too much distracted to be care about my shoppings.
    Everything in it´s apropriate site I think, but Spanish mediterranean cost is so. You don´t know if you are at the beach, in Mercadona´s grocery supermarket or just in the open-air little market where you could buy every kind of things.
    In the little cities beside the sea everybody do at everyplace as she or he likes without any care for the others.

    To me the big question was always the same, I was so cold doing shoppings and the others doesn´t care about the freezing points of the supermarket even without clothes?. What happens about my body?.
    Yes, I hate going to the big groceries and I use to go once a week only if I can, the other shoppings are in the vegetable/fruits little shops which are dozens here where I live in Madrid.

  13. Peter says:

    Here, Convenient stores are not giving way to Mega corporations. They do their business amicably alongside one another,But the market trend is determined by franchises.

    Thanks Jeff for the topic ,

    Your program met my insatiable desire for learning English.

    You re the best! And , I am putting it lightly/mildly

  14. Peter says:

    Dear jeff and Lucy,

    Last time I checked ! Being honest still was a becoming quality. And,you guys full of it!

    Man,I m on fire!

  15. emiliano says:

    As Roberto said here in Spain every big super has their own marks that are called “white” and they are cheaper that the others you listen by the radio or watch in the tv screen.
    These “white” marks are made by the same companies that frecuently do their own well known marks and to them is a good business too because they have nothing to spend in publicity or similar.
    There is one big super well know in Europe that is Lidl and it´s the most cheaper super of all in Spain, and I think in the rest of Europe.
    But it has very good products, in fact some are better that others well known. I use to buy some of the things I like more in this super that has it´s own marks nearly in all products. Only coca cola or others well significant are also sell in it.
    I think Lidl is from Germany or Austria, but I like it very much. Cheap and good products, that the way of this super.
    I know that some people doesn´t like to go to it because there are too many inmigrants or people from a low wealthy level, but I don´t care at all, I go where I think we can find good food and best prizes, and I don´t mind who is inside.
    Frecuently Cuca told me that a room of this house has been bought shaving money because I use to go to Lidl when we were living in the Alicante´s cost.
    Any yes, I think that´s true.

  16. Peter says:

    Season greetings guys,

    Christmass is approaching ,

    For past couple of years my resolution was learning English.

    My this year resolustion would be drop the accent because it is weighing me down big time

    What are your resolutions for the upcomming year?

  17. Bakhtyar says:

    It is really interesting topic that you have chosen my friend, in kurdistan of Iraq we still don’t have -lts say- the culture of shopping, it is true, that recently we have had numerous of modern supermarkets, all of them import foods and clothes outside country because we don’t have local or national industry even the infrasturcture of agricultural is undermined by coutinues wars.anyway , for my self i do shopping three times a week i buy groceries-mainly- cucumber- meat -chicken oftenly- let me be quick to add- and bread) i perfer organic food on artificials ones. as i said all my fellow citizens depend on foreign goods, for as it is highly expensive especially for civil service employees in lower rank of government organization,for instance my salary per month is for hundred dollars, this amount money should cover daily meals for me and both of my kids and i have to pay to house wage and clothes. imagine. let me add another things all goods which my family use for daily life including groceries is in poorer quality for example we mostly use kinds of meats which are genitically modified.

  18. Peter says:

    The thing is down there the unstable ,and ready-to-explode atmosphere affect adversely the living condition in the region. The shaky circumstances have precluded( prevent from happening) people in most level of society ranging from under-deprived to well-off from leading a normal ,standard life. I don’t wanna get political here since the outline of Eslpod does not allow me to dig deeper ,and I respect that. Accordingly ,I am totally tied down. I mean I don’t allow myself to take liberty to go any further. Let’s just say that I admire You my friend and other fellow middleaster who make their way through all the barriers an difficulties, weighing down you in every move. I am not saying it because I want you to feel good about your self other words,I am saying it out of pity. I just called it as I saw it, man.

    You yourself pegged me as an educated man. I mean the way you express your thoughts In English is quite well my friend.Of course I am not in the place to judge or assess your English proficiency , but I guess Lucy and Jeff back me up on that.

    God bless you with all the bravery and persistence

    Peace out

  19. Dear Bakhtyar,
    Very difficult to understand how can you couver all your needs, including both kids, with only four hundred dollars per month and then have the encouragement for study lenguages …
    I am retired and I got 2.000 x 14 eures per year …
    I hope one better situation for all you nex Year 2010
    God bless you.
    José María, España.

  20. Peter says:

    I am not saying it out of pity,\it was an honest mistake. I am terribly sorry.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way.By all that I meant , We are all the same regardless where we live. If you step back just a few paces( steps) and look at the big picture, you will notice that we all live on a humongous spinning rock,that is all there is to it my friends.We really do. It is So simple.Wondering why we make it so damn difficult.
    All the divisions,gaps and distance have made by men kind. Hope we all see the day when our glob is just a seamless huge village with no boundaries and divisions.

    I wish that day comes in my days within my life span ,I mean.

  21. alex says:

    Hi dear Jeff,

    My name is Alex and I’m brazilian. In Brazil some supermakets sell several kinds of organics (vegetables, fruit, cereals and so on). But here like there the prices of this products is very very expensive. So the majority of people cannot buy and consume them. This is cruel for us because we have that that to eat bad foods.

  22. Peter says:

    My friend Bakhtyar,

    seems like you got the concept of “let me be quick to add” I am totally zoned out by that . Can you change it into layman terms ,so I can understand. I asked once but I got snubbed .You be a bigger man and Indulge me.

    No sarcasm is intended,
    no mean to be disrespectful.

    Peace out

  23. Peter says:

    I just listen to English cafe 218 one more time. It was like I am listening to it for the first time. Every time I pick up on something is a known fact that Eslpod materials never get old.

    As I was intently listening ,I realized Jeff mentioned something about caption, which reminds me of as a very good point. The point is : the difference between close captions and subtitles.
    I don’t know how to put it.
    To understand a movie better ,we sometimes need the line of conversation ( dialogs) appears on the screen as the movie goes on. If the writing( dialog) that comes on the screen matches with the original language of the movie,it is called “close Caption.” on the other hand,if the line is a translation of the original language is called subtitle.
    For example : If I am watching Star wars in English and the line appearing on the screen is in English is called close caption ,but if the movie is in English and but the on coming writing is in French it is called subtitle.

    There is another interesting point.

    Sometimes it happens that the mouth movements of actors and actress don’t match with the voice. Typically, the voice comes after, it is called “Voice Delay..”

  24. Peter says:

    Sounds like Jeff discussed the dfference before

    However ,it is a good reminder

    BUt,definitely ,jeff did not address voice delay yet,did he?

    Sorry guys .my short memeory sucks.

  25. Tania says:

    Hi ! Interesting topic on chemotherapy , state laws – federal laws , meltdown – crack down .
    I have understood better the symbol of the FBI . Thank you for the meaning of the DEA .
    Well , Woody Allen – I have to say I know not too much about him and his movies . I liked very much to listen to his life story .

    All the best for you all ,


  26. Peter says:

    Another night, another delema,

    It is way into the night, and I am totally sleepless. Well, loosing sleep is one of the perks of leading a lonely,this side of the grave things gets boring to tears sometimes.
    Good thing,I have EslPod always handy,so I can study what it contains through the night. I know ,I am being silly,and it is totally beside the point.
    But,it is one of the things I like about this blog. It allows you to express yourself no matter what!
    Indeed ,the sky is the limit to what you can gain at EslPod.

    Sleep tight folks,

  27. Edu says:

    I buy most of the good at once the fruits and vegetables once a week.

  28. dieselmax says:

    hi.Jeff, i like “mechanic” food rather than organic one..

  29. Peter says:

    I m an impulsive buyer.I pick up everything that catches my eyes.I grab all the munchies sitting at eye level shelves.
    I am not a health concious kind of guy,so I never check the product break-down label.admit it. All the candies and magazings sitting on the shelves by the cash registers are very tempting.

    Your guess is darn right ;I am a big fat glutton

  30. Peter says:

    Dear Dieselmax,

    Ditto( the same here ) my friend

    I prefer processed food over organic

    Imagine ,all the factory-processed cheese bubling on a pizza pie

    Talking about all the grocery thing has worked up my apettite
    I m heading for a local pizza house
    Later guys

  31. Peter says:

    Sometimes you go shopping and the next thing you know all your discretinary income is gone.they got skills my friends.they cash you out down to last penny.

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