Out of Stock? Grocery Shoppers Won’t Buy Alternatives for These Surprising Items

Asian pregnant woman grocery shopping at the vegetable aisle in supermarket.
JaCZhou / Getty Images

It’s three times more common for a grocery item to be out of stock today than pre-pandemic, according to a new survey, and buying a different brand of the same product isn’t always a viable solution for many shoppers.

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Lucidworks polled online shoppers in the U.S. and U.K. to discover that 90% have at least one grocery item from a favorite brand where they will accept no substitutes. While 30% of shoppers are open to looking for a substitute on the same grocery website or shopping app, there are a few surprising items where shoppers feel alternate items just aren’t the same, the survey indicated.

Some of the brands listed include Splenda brand stevia natural sweetener and Nutella, because, as one shopper said, “Kids won’t substitute it (tried).” Some shoppers were less brand loyal but insisted on specific types of products. For instance, one shopper said they prefer specific cuts of meat for specific recipes, while another insisted on organic produce.

Of course, while cauliflower is often caught masquerading as rice or mashed potatoes, one shopper pointed out there is, “Certain produce that can’t be subbed.”  

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Picky pets also factored into the equation, with people saying their cats and dogs “won’t eat alternatives” or that they only eat “a very specific brand and flavor.”

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Personal care products also made the list, including deodorant, face wash and shampoo. These items could experience increased inflation and further shortages heading into the summer, due to supply chain issues affecting palm oil, a key ingredient in many soaps and shampoos.

EatThis.com also reported that an Indonesian ban on crude palm oil exports in April 2022 could lead to increased shortages of the ingredient — and products that use it — this summer.

Switching to generic brands or alternative items could help shoppers save money. It might be wise to review your grocery list and switch to lower cost items where you can. This can free up money in your grocery budget to splurge on the brands that really matter to you and your family.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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