Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Food Spending: Fact vs. Fantasy

Americans spend more at restaurants than they think they do. We know this because the Consumer Expenditure Survey asks respondents how much they usually spend at restaurants per week, and it also asks them to keep a daily diary of their expenditures. The results are not the same. The more precise diary method consistently shows restaurant spending to be 16 to 22 percent greater than the guesstimate.

The opposite happens with grocery shopping. When asked how much they usually spend on groceries per week, households overreport their spending by about 21 percent in comparison with diary data on grocery purchases. That's because Americans greatly underestimate how much they spend on nonfood items, like paper towels, when shopping for groceries.

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