Single-person households up 17.2%, shifting retail buying

Single person households are rising as household sizes fall, according to the Australian Census. With a changing profile, consumer purchasing patterns are also shifting.

Single-person households were up 17.2% between 2016-2021, with more Australians living alone according to the latest release of the Australian census. This figure significantly outpaced the national household increase of 11.9% and family households at 10.7%, with Australian single-person households now reaching 25% or 2.37 million households nationally.

The trend of smaller families has also continued, with the average number of people per household falling from 2.6 to 2.5 over the same period. Of family groups, childless couples also saw the greatest increase at 13% to 2.61 million, over one-parent families at 11.3%, and families with children at 8.4%.

With falling household sizes, along with other retail trends, Australian households are now shopping less often. With higher discretionary incomes, these smaller households are more likely to eat out of home, drawing spending away from retail. Additionally, with an average basket nearly 3 times the size, increased online food and grocery shopping are also eating into this number. As a result, average weekly trips per household are down by 3.7% from 2016-2021.

The increase in number of singles able to afford to live alone and couples without kids, up from 4.51 million to 5.15 million households will affect consumer buying patterns. This includes fewer shoppers buying for the more structured meals in family households, while the singles and couples plan to shorter horizons and can welcome and pay for attributes they value. Additionally, singles and families without children also tend to show a higher emphasis on healthy food and sustainability, placing a higher value on product attributes that align with these values.

The changing Australian household profile invites retailers and their suppliers to tune their product and promotional offers to accommodate fewer food shopping trips by shoppers who are more likely to be buying for adults than children.

Find out more about how Freshlogic consumer insights and purchasing metrics can inform your product development here

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