New York…Retailers are noting some changes in the shopping patterns of kosher consumers as the pre-Passover buying season heads into its final 10 days. Many shoppers who previously did the bulk of their shopping in one store are now expanding the experience to several stores, taking advantage of specials at each store. Some shoppers in Boro Park and Flatbush are equipped with local periodicals, comparing prices at every stop. Several retailers and distributors said they clearly saw the “effects of the recession” on many families. In 2008, many of these retailers said that sales grew by 10% - 15%, but this year will be happy with a 5% - 8% surge. Despite many new choices in foods and wines, customers are by and large staying away from the more expensive items in many Jewish areas. Poverty agencies and Jewish social service groups are responding to a record number of appeals for help, many from former middle class families, according to Met Council on Jewish Poverty. It appears to be the big story for Jewish Federations across the nation as well. In New York, there is talk of opening additional soup kitchens while the Federation plans emergency assistance programs throughout the city. Appeals to retailers to avoid price gouging are having some effect as prices in many cases seem to be on par with last year and stores are discounting many more items. But many foods, like rare cut meats and most other meats are priced significantly higher than last year. One retailer said that he felt like he was involved in a balancing act “offering lower prices for those that cannot afford it while getting higher prices for items from those that can.” Distributors say that they handled more than 400 new items, but that the average store carried less than 10% of that number.
March 30, 2009