Snacks & Candy

Consumers to Get Outside for Memorial Day Weekend: Survey

Snack Index shows a return to ‘in-person leisure’ activities
Photograph: Shutterstock

PLANO, Texas — In a sign of a return to normalcy, Frito-Lay’s latest U.S. Snack Index from April found that eight in 10 (80%) of consumers have already made plans for Memorial Day, including many activities outside the house, such as like attending a barbecue, spending time at the park, visiting a beach, traveling or playing outdoor sports.

The results are a drastic difference to 2020 data when 82% of consumers noted they planned to stay at home alone for the holiday, Frito-Lay said. Additionally, 50% of vaccinated adults said they plan to spend time with people outside of their household for Memorial Day.

And through it all, the Snack Index, a poll focused on consumers’ snacking habits, found that snacks remain essential to summer. Eight in 10 consumers cited summer snacks as a staple of the season (84%) or essential to moments they enjoy (80%).

“Overall, the home continues to be central for snacking and gatherings; however, as the world reopens and vaccinations continue, consumers are venturing out again,” said Mike Del Pozzo, chief customer officer for Frito-Lay North America.

Additional market trends and U.S. Snack Index highlights show both in-person leisure and everyday activities this summer are coming back—and that some pandemic behaviors are here to stay.

  • Consumers are returning to in-person shopping and dining at an accelerated pace—from drug stores to convenience,  big-box retailers and quick-service restaurants.
  • More people are getting snacks in-person at the grocery store (a 14-point increase from 2020). One-third (35%) are picking up snacks at convenience stores, an area that has seen a large uptick as consumers get out more, Frito-Lay reported.
  • But, ecommerce is here to stay as consumers are now used to purchases at the push of a button. Frito-Lay anticipates ecommerce to double by 2025, and online snack sales are up approximately 73% year-over-year.

Meanwhile, consumers are trying new snacks and bold flavors, but the classics remain a steady favorite.

  • When choosing a summer snack, the most important thing to consumers is convenience or having tried-and-true favorites (89%).
  • Chips are the top snack to stock up on for nearly all summer activities, and two in three consumers said they prefer to stick with the classic, traditional flavors this summer.
  • Americans are getting more adventurous compared to last year, however, with people increasingly preferring new, spicy and bold flavors (25% in 2020 vs. 32% in 2021). This is particularly important to Millennials and Gen Z, with 45% saying they prefer new, spicy and bold flavors this summer.

Other snacking habits and summer plans across the United States:

  • More than a quarter of people in Los Angeles (29%), Baltimore/D.C. (27%) and Houston (26%) said they expect to snack more this summer compared to a typical, pre-pandemic summer.
  • Summer activities differ across markets as the world begins to open up. Los Angeles shows strong interest in spending more time among other people at restaurants, sporting events and concerts, while Dallas shows interest in spending more time outdoors this summer (63%).

“The pandemic has caused companies to find creative ways to meet consumer snacking demand,” said Elizabeth Avery, president and CEO of SNAC International, the global trade association representing the snack-food industry. “We have seen drastic shifts in consumer preferences and habits, from the flavors and types of snacks consumers choose to how snacks are making it to their doorstep. As we approach Memorial Day and beyond, we can expect some behaviors learned in the pandemic to become a mainstay."

Frito-Lay’s Snack Index poll was conducted on April 28-30 among a national sample of 2,199 adults. Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay North America is the $18 billion convenient foods division of PepsiCo Inc., Purchase, N.Y.

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