THE recession has forced householders to make more frequent trips to the shops – but buy less.
People are less inclined to do one big shop every week, and are now trying to buy little and often.
Part of the reason for this is a desperate search for better value by cash-strapped consumers, according to research from Kantar, a firm that tracks grocery spending trends.
"There is no doubt that household budgets are increasingly stretched and this is reflected in the changing nature of the grocery shop," said Kantar Worldpanel commercial director David Berry.
Grocery prices rose by 4.2pc in the three months up to November.
"To help offset the impact of price inflation, the little and often approach to shopping continues; with the average household making an extra 2.5 grocery trips this year – that's an additional four million trips across the country," Mr Berry said.
This means shoppers are returning to the old-fashioned strategy of buying small amounts more often, as they tighten their purse strings after another brutal Budget.
Consumers are spending an average of just €21.30 every time they go to the supermarket.
Meanwhile, the National Consumer Agency has advised householders to be realistic with their food shopping in the run-up to Christmas.
It can be easy to buy more than is needed, but people need to bear in mind that most shops are only closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, the agency said.
The best way to get the best prices is through shopping around and spreading your spend across different stores, according to the NCA.
Small, local shops may offer convenience but consumers may find prices are a bit higher to pay for that convenience.
On the other hand, savings made on a trip to an out-of-town discount store should be balanced against the cost of getting there and back.
Consumers were advised to check the larger shops' websites or use online comparison sites to check prices before going shopping.
Studies show that most shoppers believe the Budget has left them so strapped for cash that they will end up spending less money on their groceries.
Families with children have had their confidence shattered even more and will be more inclined to cut back on day-to-day essentials.
Research by retail magazine 'Checkout', and carried out by Empathy Research, found 91pc of people feel the Budget will leave them with less money to spend on the items going in to a shopping trolley.