When purchasing food, households make many choices, including what to buy and where to shop. ERS researchers looked at how changes in income affect U.S. consumers’ milk purchasing decisions, including the type of store to patronize. They found that 72 percent of milk purchases took place in supermarkets, followed by 15 percent in supercenters and mass merchandisers. Club warehouse stores and drug stores accounted for 5 and 3 percent of milk purchases, even though these two store types had lower average milk prices than supermarkets, supercenters, or mass merchandisers. The analysis revealed that most households are unlikely to change where they buy their milk, even after large changes in income. Interestingly, a household was 6 percent more likely to buy its milk in a convenience store after its annual income dropped from $60,000 to $40,000, despite the higher price of milk in these stores. Other factors, such as the availability of a car and time to drive to a supermarket, can correlate with income and affect purchase decisions. The data for this chart are from “Changes in Income Have Small Effect on Where a Household Shops for Milk” in ERS’s July 2013 Amber Waves magazine.
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