Waitrose customers are not immune from the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, with millions turning to cheaper cooking oils, loose vegetables and freezing food to stick to budgets.

In its Food and Drink Report 2022-23, Waitrose found 72% of its customer base was “more mindful about what they’re spending”, while a third said they are actively “shopping around for bargains”. 

The upmarket grocer said 32% of customers had switched to vegetable oil over olive oil; 21% had switched to purchasing loose vegetables rather than bagged to avoid buying more than they need; and 45% have been buying less meat to save money.

Waitrose has also seen customers choosing “affordable cupboard staples”. Sales of canned pork and ham are up 36% year on year, while searches for Waitrose’s online ‘spam fritters’ recipe have risen 82%. Freezing food to keep it fresher for longer has also grown in popularity, with 39% of Waitrose customers “putting their freezers to work”.

Shoppers have flown to value by trading down through Waitrose’s own-brand tiers with over a quarter of customers now shopping its Essentials range, batch cooking for the week and minimising food waste by using the same ingredients in multiple dishes.

Boss James Bailey said: “At Waitrose, we have responded to the crisis by doubling down on our good food promise. We believe budgeting shouldn’t mean compromise and are proud that our Essential range delivers not just on price, but on quality and taste.”

Despite the economic turmoil, Waitrose said its average basket sizes remain 15% higher than in 2019/20. The pandemic “upended our lives and shopping routines” and drove customer adoption of less frequent shopping visits with bigger baskets – and this behaviour, while lessening somewhat, remains ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

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