Food is necessary for survival, but it can also seem like a luxury item depending on where you shop or dine. In some cities, food is much more expensive than in others.
Buying food from a grocery store or supermarket is more common than going out to eat, simply because more can be bought per dollar. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey found that Americans spent $52.4 billion on groceries alone in 2016.
But that money isn’t always evenly distributed. Grocery prices can vary a lot between urban areas. That price difference can be influenced by a number of factors, including the median household income of the area and proximity to the food source.
Just as the price of groceries can vary by city, grocery expenditure also varies considerably by region. Consumers in the western U.S. paid an average of $4,447 for groceries, according to a 2015-2016 survey. But people in the South paid just $3,776 for the same types of products.
Food spending in the Northeast and Midwest fell in between those figures, with average expenditures of $4,031 and $4,052 per person per year, respectively.
To determine which urban areas pay the most for groceries, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the grocery items index from The Council for Community and Economic Research for U.S. urban areas.