Do You Know About “In The Know”?

We all love being in the know, right?

Well, NCP recently launched a new way of sharing information that our panel members have provided to us. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s called NCP’s In The Know.

This week, In The Know looks at Valentine’s Day-related stats. We show your Valentine’s Day Instant Poll results as well as NCP panel member data on chocolate and floral sales. Check it out at

If you have ideas for other topics, let us know by going to

Have a great weekend! And be on the lookout next week for our first contest where 10 people can each win a $10 gift card.

Best Regards,

Happy Valentine’s Day From NCP

It’s Valentine’s Day, one of my very favorite holidays! (I am a hopeless romantic, after all.)

How do you celebrate? As soon as my husband and I get home from work, we exchange gifts and then go out to dinner (gee, I hope he remembered to make dinner reservations! Or was it my turn this year?).

As you know, Valentine’s Day is also a big event for manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants, with billions of dollars being spent by consumers.

What about you, how much do you expect to spend on Valentine’s Day?

Take Our Instant Poll (at

Speaking of spending money, here are some fascinating Valentine’s Day facts from and the National Retail Federation:

  • $27.4 billion: Total Valentine’s Day spending (for partners, family members, friends, co-workers, and pets) projected for 2020 (up 32% from 2019)
  • $196.31: Average amount Valentine’s Day participants will spend in 2020 (an increase of 21% compared with last year’s previous record of $161.96)
  • $101: Average per-couple cost of a Valentine’s dinner out
  • $291 vs. $106: Men will spend nearly three times as much as women, on average, for Valentine’s Day 2020.
  • $10.5 billion: Amount Americans will spend on jewelry ($5.8B), flowers ($2.3B) and candy ($2.4B).
  • Shoppers plan to spend …
    • $5.8 billion on jewelry (given by 21%)
    • $4.3 billion on an evening out (34%)
    • $2.9 billion on clothing (20%)
    • $2.4 billion on candy (52%)
    • $2.3 billion on flowers (37%)
    • $2 billion on gift cards (19%)
    • $1.3 billion on greeting cards (43%)
  • 30% of annual flower sales happen around Valentine’s Day
  • 1,261+: Types of Valentine’s Day greeting cards are being offered by Hallmark in 2020
  • $12.21: Average amount spent by Americans on Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets
  • Least-desired gifts:
    • 24%: Tools
    • 24%: Gym membership
    • 19%: Sporting equipment
    • 16%: Kitchen appliances
    • 15%: Cheesy stuffed animal
    • 13%: Mixtape (I have to admit to giving my husband a mixtape, but it was a loonnnggg time ago!)
  • 45% of adults do NOT plant to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year

I wish you all a very happy Valentine’s Day, even if you’re not celebrating.

And please remember if you buy your loved ones flowers, candy, or clothing, to record these purchases, even if they don’t have a barcode. If you have a scanner, use the Barcode Reference Booklet. If you use the NCPMobile App, use the onboard Non-Barcoded Items Listing.

Hope you have a lovely day!

Best Regards,

Super Bowl Sunday

Well, it’s almost time for the Super Bowl! Who do you think will win? Do you even care who wins?? I know many just like to munch on wings and chips, and watch the commercials and/or the halftime show. (What do you like to do on Super Bowl Sunday? Tell us about it by leaving a comment!)

As you know, the Super Bowl is big business, not just for the teams involved and the NFL, but for retailers. For instance, according to the National Retail Federation those watching the big game expect to spend an average $88.65 on food and beverages, merchandise and party supplies, for a total $17.2 billion.

That’s a lot of wings and things!

Note – NCP Public Service Announcement: We want to remind anyone hosting or attending a Super Bowl party – or a Kitten Bowl or Puppy Bowl party, for that matter – to record any “food, beverages, merchandise and party supplies” that you purchase.

Anyway, football is filled with statistics. So in honor of the big game, here are some super Super Bowl-related stats from

  • 17: Number of people who attend the average Super Bowl party
  • 27% of Americans plan to attend a Super Bowl party
  • 52.4% of Americans think Super Bowl Monday should be a national holiday
  • 6,000: Average calories for a football party feast
  • 1.4 billion chicken wings will be eaten
  • 10 million pounds of ribs are sold the week of the Super Bowl
  • 11.2+ million pounds of potato chips will be eaten
  • 8+ million pounds of guacamole will be consumed
  • 50%: Increase in pizza orders on Super Bowl Sunday than on the average day
  • 67% more pizza is eaten on Super Bowl Sunday compared to the average day
  • Favorite Super Bowl Foods:
    • 29% Wings
    • 26% Pizza
    • 15% Nachos
    • 14% dip
    • 7% chili
    • 6% BBQ
  • 51.7+ million cases of beer are sold for Super Bowl Sunday
  • 90% more beer is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday than on an average day
  • $1.3 billion spent on beer and cider on Super Bowl Sunday
  • $597 million is spent on wine
  • $503 million is spent on hard liquor
  • 1 in 10 people will miss work the day after the Super Bowl

Have a great weekend, and enjoy the game! (or at least the commercials and halftime show.)

Best Regards,

Ten Years Gone

As you may know, the National Consumer Panel is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. And we couldn’t have done it without our great panel members! So to help acknowledge all of the hard work our panelists do, we have many exciting things in store this year.

Starting soon, the NCP Blog will be conducting several contests where 10 people can each win a $10 gift card. (Can you see what we’re doing here? LOL)

So be on the lookout for our first contest coming very soon. More details in a future blog posting!

I’m thinking about where I was 10 years ago. I was in elementary school. OK, well not quite. I was working, but not at NCP. My life has certainly changed a lot in the past 10 years!

What about you, what were you doing 10 years ago and how has your life changed? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Speaking of 10 years ago, it’s interesting to see how the price of certain goods and services have changed over the years.

Here’s some fascinating information from

Item Average 2010 price 2020 price
White bread $2.49 $2.08
Price of 1 pound of potatoes   52¢ 78¢
Price of gallon of milk   $2.79 $4.12
Price of 1 pound of bacon   $3.22 $4.98
Price of dozen eggs   $1.37 $1.58
Price of pound of ground beef $3.78 $5.24
Average price gallon of gas     $2.73 $2.38
Movie ticket   $7.50 $9.11
First class stamp    44¢ 55¢

Note: The pricing information listed above may not reflect the prices in your area of the country, and so may not be anywhere near what you paid/are paying. We’re using this broad, general information just because we think it’s interesting!

Have a great weekend!

Best Regards,

I Love Bagels

I was eating a bagel this morning when a co-worker mentioned that yesterday was National Bagel Day. How could I have missed that?!

Anyway, I know it’s a day late, but I want to talk about the magnificence that is the bagel. I love all things bagel. Alright I know it’s not the healthiest thing to eat – way too many carbs on its own, let alone what you put on it. But I do love a good bagel every now and then. And so do the 204.9 million Americans who consumed bagels in 2019 (according to

So, let’s talk bagels. The food-delivery service Grubhub put together a comprehensive report just on bagels, including top flavors and regional preferences.

According to Grubhub’s 2019 order data, the nation’s favorite bagel flavor is the “everything” bagel. The most popular topping is regular cream cheese.

Tell us about your favorite type of bagel and topping by leaving a comment!

Here are Grubhub’s findings:

Top Bagel Flavors In The U.S.

  1. Everything
  2. Sesame
  3. Cinnamon raisin
  4. Poppyseed
  5. Pumpernickel

Top Bagel Toppings In The U.S.

  1. Regular cream cheese
  2. Bacon
  3. Avocado
  4. American cheese
  5. Butter

When it comes to favorite flavors by region, the everything bagel dominated everywhere except the Midwest. Here are those findings:


  1. Everything
  2. Sesame
  3. Garlic
  4. Salt
  5. Blueberry


  1. Cinnamon raisin
  2. Poppyseed
  3. Everything
  4. French toast
  5. Blueberry


  1. Everything
  2. Pumpernickel
  3. Cinnamon raisin
  4. Asiago
  5. Blueberry


  1. Everything
  2. Poppyseed
  3. Garlic
  4. Chocolate chip
  5. Raisin

Finally, GrubHub determined which bagel orders rose most in 2019, compared to 2018, to determine the “trendiest” flavors and sandwiches nationwide.

Trendiest Bagel Flavors

  1. French toast: 153% more popular
  2. Blueberry: 136% more popular
  3. Garlic: 114% more popular
  4. Pumpernickel: 114% more popular
  5. Sesame seed: 103% more popular

Trendiest Bagel Sandwiches

  1. Egg and cheese: 489% more popular
  2. Bacon, egg and cheese: 347% more popular
  3. Bagel and lox: 253% more popular
  4. Tuna salad: 224% more popular
  5. Egg salad: 98% more popular

Meanwhile, ezCater, the nation’s largest marketplace for business catering, analyzed bagel orders nationally in 2018 to find the top bagel-loving cities in the country.

Here is their Top Ten:

  1. New York, NY
  2. Boston, MA
  3. Washington, DC
  4. San Jose, CA
  5. Atlanta, GA
  6. San Francisco, CA
  7. Chicago, IL
  8. Philadelphia, PA
  9. Los Angeles, CA
  10. Phoenix, AZ

(According to ezCater, 40% of all of its bagel orders come from New York City. No surprise there!)

Bagels are of course somewhat regionally prized, such as in the North. Cities with the least number of bagels ordered in 2018 include Houston, Austin, Nashville, and Raleigh, according to ezCater.

Have a great weekend, and enjoy your everything bagels!

Best Regards,

Resolve To Be The Best Panel Member Ever!

Like many others, I made a resolution to exercise more this year. But apparently, many others made the same resolution; when my friend Lisa and I went to our local gym, we found it to be PACKED! There were actually lines of people waiting to use the treadmills and ellipticals. People were taking numbers like in a bakery or at the deli counter. (Alright, I’m making that up. But it was really, really crowded.)

As we all know, even the best-laid plans often fall apart before we even hit February. According to data from Strava, a social network for athletes that analyzed more than 31.5 million fitness records from its users, the second Friday in January is the day when many of those best-laid plans go bye-bye. I hate to say it, but the second Friday in January is today, January 10.

Now I don’t want to bring anyone down … because there are ways to maintain your goals. According to,

  • Set a concrete goal that you truly believe you can achieve. (And don’t try to do a million things at once.)
  • Don’t fret the occasional slip-up. (We’re all human; give yourself a break!)
  • Reward yourself. (You don’t have to achieve something humongous; even small achievements are good.)
  • Figure out what triggered the lapse and try to change it. (If something’s not working, change it and make it work.)
  • Use the buddy system. (Enlist a friend or family member’s help. There’s strength in numbers.)

We hope you set a concrete goal of being the best panel member you can be! Here are some (familiar) tips to help you become an even better panelist this year:

Scan as soon as you can. Whenever you can, scan the products from your shopping trips as soon as you get home. Scanning your products immediately and while you’re putting them away will keep them fresh in your mind, so you won’t miss any of the items. To make it even easier, use your register receipt as a guide.

Scan it all. Scan everything that has a barcode on it. Also, record your purchases of non-barcoded items using the Barcode Reference Booklet if you have a scanner, or if you have the NCPMobile App, the on-board Non-Barcoded Items feature.

Scan purchases from other household members, too. Whether or not you do all the scanning or other household members get in on the act, make sure everyone’s purchases get scanned. If there’s one designated scanner in the house, to ensure no purchase gets overlooked, have everyone leave his/her shopping receipts in a common area, such as the kitchen table. The designated scanner can use them as a guide.

Scan the correct store name or store type. When recording your purchases, it is important to let us know what stores you are shopping at to ensure that your information is accurate. We know this can get tricky with many online stores. So please make sure to use the correct store name or store type!

Happy Anniversary To NCP!
On another note, we have some cool news to share. The National Consumer Panel just celebrated our 10th anniversary on January 2. We could not have done it without you! Thank you for your dedication and cooperation. We really appreciate it. Here’s to another 10 great years!

Have a great weekend, and keep working on those resolutions!

Best Regards,

Holiday Season Shopping Info

Interested in finding out how other NCP panel members feel about holiday shopping? Well, we have some data for you!

But first, let me explain: NCP has been conducting an Advisory Board, with rotating members, for the past few years. The NCP Advisory Board functions as an ongoing, online focus group. Each group usually lasts two or three months, and then we start a new one, with new board members. A few times a month we’ll ask the board members to provide their opinions about a specific NCP-related topic. Our belief is that, as an NCP panelist, there’s no one better to ask about what we can do to enhance the panel.

With that said, our most recent Advisory Board group was asked about their holiday shopping experiences. (Please note: This is not scientific! It’s just a snapshot into some of our panelists’ opinions.) Here is what they said:

When do you start your holiday shopping?

  • Start before September: 16.7%
  • Start September or October: 14.3%
  • Start November to early December: 42.9%
  • Start mid-December: 11.9%
  • Start day/days before holiday: 4.8%
  • Don’t holiday shop: 7.1%

Compared with last year, how much money are you planning to spend on holiday shopping?

  • More: 15.4%
  • Same: 53.8%
  • Less: 30.8%

Did you take advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping/deals?

  • Black Friday only: 17.9%
  • Cyber Monday only: 12.8%
  • Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday: 17.9%
  • Shopped that weekend, but not on Black Friday or Cyber Monday: 5.1%
  • Didn’t shop Black Friday, the weekend, or Cyber Monday: 46.2%

How many friends or family members do you typically shop for during the holiday season?

  • 1 – 5: 23.1%
  • 6 – 10: 51.3%
  • 11 – 15: 23.1%
  • More than 15: 2.6%

When holiday shopping, where do you get the best deals?

  • Online: 51.2%
  • In-store: 39.0%

When making holiday purchases, how do you typically pay?

  • Credit: 45.9%
  • Debit: 32.4%
  • Cash: 16.2%
  • PayPal: 2.7%

When do you typically start putting up your holiday decorations?

  • Start during November: 29.4%
  • Start the day after Thanksgiving: 14.7%
  • Start early December: 38.2%
  • Start days before the holiday: 17.6%

Do you have a favorite holiday song?

Yes: 58.6%

Songs include:

  • Silent night
  • Jingle Bells
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • Holy Night
  • Feliz Navidad
  • White Christmas
  • Winter Wonderland
  • All I Want For Christmas is You

Do you have a favorite holiday show/special that you look forward to watching each year?

Yes: 44.8%

Shows include:

  • How The Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Polar Express
  • Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
  • A Christmas Carol
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • White Christmas
  • A Christmas Story
  • Charlie Brown Christmas

Note: This particular Advisory Board contains 50 members. Numbers may not add up to 100%, due to rounding and other factors.

We hope you enjoyed reading these results. Please let us know how you would answer these questions by leaving a comment or two.

And one last thing: If you’re able to, please recycle or reuse any wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift boxes, etc. Thank you.

We here at NCP wish you a happy and healthy holiday!

Best Regards,

All About Barcodes

Last week when I went grocery shopping, I was so tired from a long day that I just stood there at the checkout and just “checked out” the cashier scan all the items.

I thought about how interesting barcodes are. (I told you I had checked out!) All that information embedded in those lines!

Anyway, in a sad coincidence, I later found out that George J. Laurer, recognized as the “Father” of the UPC barcode, had passed away at the age of 94.

Mr. Laurer began working on the scanable digital barcode around 1970 while he was employed at IBM. The very first transaction using the barcode was done in 1974, at a Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, OH. The first product scanned was a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum. That pack of gum is now at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

We here at NCP certainly owe Mr. Laurer a deep debt of gratitude for his development of the scanable digital barcode. Where would we be without barcodes?

Now, for those of you who’ve been wondering what a barcode is exactly, a Universal Product Code (UPC) is a set of symbols used to represent letters or numbers. These symbols contain information such as the name of the manufacturer, product description (price, size, color, flavor), inventory quantity, etc.

Barcodes allow businesses to operate more efficiently and accurately, and they are used just about everywhere! Not only do manufacturers and retailers use barcodes, other industries such as healthcare and video stores, to name a few, use bar code technology. UPCs originate with the Uniform Code Council (UCC). The UCC issues the manufacturers and retailers a six-digit manufacturer identification number and provides guidelines on how to use it.

How does the NCPMobile App/scanner pick up the barcodes?
When you pass your Smartphone or the scanner over a barcode, the light beam from the Smartphone or scanner is reflected by the light spaces, but not the dark ones. The app/scanner receives the reflected light and converts it into an electrical signal. This signal can be “decoded” by the app/scanner’s decoder into the characters that the barcode represents. The decoded data is then passed to the computer in a traditional data format.

For the National Consumer Panel, barcodes play a key role. By scanning all of the purchases that have a UPC bar code, you provide important information about your household’s preferences. This in turn allows you to make your opinions count!

Note: I want to personally thank Elaine S., who emailed us information about Mr. Laurer’s passing away.

Remember to scan all those barcodes on your holiday purchases! (Along with your regular purchases, too.)

Thanks and have a great weekend.

Best Regards,

Going Online Shopping?

Have you gone shopping over the past few days? I did, and I certainly was not alone.

According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 190 million consumers shopped between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

Of that, about two-thirds visited physical stores while three-quarters shopped online. On Cyber Monday alone, shoppers spent a record $9.4 billion online, according to data released by Adobe Analytics. That was a nearly 20% jump from last year and the biggest U.S. online shopping day of all-time.

Black Friday for its part had $7.4 billion in online sales, making it the third-largest online sales day ever, after the last two Cyber Mondays, according to Adobe data. 

What about you? Tell us about your recent shopping (online or otherwise) experiences by leaving a comment or two!

Since so many of us are doing more and more shopping online, now is a good time to review the best ways to report these purchases.

  • Online purchases may come in one or multiple shipments and don’t always include a packing receipt. Consider printing out your email/order confirmation so you can refer back to it when reporting your purchase.
  • If your items do come separately, please scan them as you receive them.
  • If an item arrives with the UPC barcode covered by another label, try carefully peeling off that label and scanning the UPC barcode on the item (or manually enter the barcode number if the barcode is damaged).
  • If you buy something from the website of a retailer that also has a storefront, make sure to report the trip as an online purchase. For example, if you order something from Walmart’s website, select “” when you record the purchase (whether the item was shipped directly to you or picked up at the store).

Whether you buy something in a physical store or online, please remember to tell us about it.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Best Regards,

Thanksgiving Tidbits

It’s here again! Turkey day is coming soon and you know what that means! Hopefully lots of family/friends, food, and fun.

This year our family is hosting, and we expect a lot of people! We’re going to have to break out a few card tables to accommodate everyone. They’ll be a lot of preparation involved, but fortunately I’ll have a lot of help.

How about you? What are your plans for Thanksgiving? What about Black Friday – going shopping? Let us know by posting a comment.

You know we all love some good info. Well, here are some Thanksgiving tidbits from the folks at

  • 96% of Americans say they celebrate Thanksgiving
  • $552M+ estimated amount spent on Thanksgiving turkeys each year
  • 73% of U.S. adults agree that a fridge full of leftovers is the best thing about hosting Thanksgiving
  • 3,000 – 4,500: Average number of calories consumed on Thanksgiving
  • 9% of Americans eat their Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant
  • 72% of Americans plan to attend a Thanksgiving dinner with 5 or more people
  • Americans’ favorite Thanksgiving dishes:
    • 39% turkey
    • 23% stuffing
    • 12% pumpkin pie
    • 9% mashed potatoes
    • 6% sweet potatoes
    • 3% cranberry sauce
  • Thanksgiving shopping trends
    • $313+ Average person’s spending over the five-day Thanksgiving period
    • 165M+ shopped over the five-day Thanksgiving period in 2018
    • 57% of people buying holiday gifts got clothing or accessories
    • 34% of Thanksgiving shoppers bought toys in 2018
    • $3.7B: Amount spent online on Thanksgiving Day in 2018 (28% increase over 2017)
  • Thanksgiving weekend traveling trends
    • 54.3M+ Americans will travel this Thanksgiving holiday (most since 2005)
    • 89.4% of travelers will drive to their destinations
    • 7.8% of Americans will fly to their Thanksgiving destinations

If you are one of those millions of people traveling by car this weekend, you’ll probably need to put some gas in the car. So please don’t forget to record the purchase. Just use the Gas listing in the Barcode Reference Booklet (Barcode Reference Booklet) if you use one of our handheld scanners, or if you’re an NCPMobile App user, use the Non-Barcoded Items list in the app. (NCPMobile people: Please do not use the Barcode Reference Booklet! Thank you.)

Note: Use Gas Trip Only designation if you just purchased gas during a trip to the service station. Use Gas With Purchase when the gasoline is purchased along with other items from the gasoline station’s convenience store. Only enter the price paid for the fuel. For all other items with a barcode, please record them as usual.

Also, let us know if you’re going to be away for a while by contacting the Panel Support Center at 800-962-6700. (If you have the NCPMobile App, you can use it while you’re away!)

Finally, I want to remind everyone that we are closed on Thanksgiving Day and Friday, Nov. 29. The Panel Support Center will be open on Saturday, Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Have a very happy and safe holiday!

Best Regards,

Thanksgiving Tidbits