A new report from Nielsen shows that store brand sales jumped by nearly 10 percent last year in mass merchandisers, club stores and dollar stores, while the mass channel came closer than ever before to overtaking traditional supermarkets as the place where consumers buy their groceries. Total sales in the mass channel reached $305 billion vs. $324 billion in supermarkets.
Sales of store brands in the mass channel increased sharply in both dollars and units, while national brands grappled with fractional declines, according to nationwide sales data collected by Nielsen. Dollar sales of private label were up by 9.3 percent, while unit sales rose by 9.1 percent. In contrast, national brands slipped 0.3 percent in dollar volume and fell back a full 1 percent in unit volume.
Thanks entirely to store brands, overall sales in the mass channel during 2017 grew by 1.3 percent for dollars and 1 percent for units. Total store brand dollar sales were $54.9 billion, compared with $50.2 billion for the prior year, a run-up of nearly $5 billion. In unit volume, store brands rose to 17.9 billion from 16.4 billion. Total sales for both dollars and units are the highest on record.
As a result of their strong 52-week performance, store brands market shares in the mass channel soared. Dollar share saw a 1.3 percent gain to 18 percent; unit share advanced 1.6 points to 21.4 percent, also all-time highs.
The mass channel is an ongoing store brands success story, says Nielsen. Since 2015, annual store brand dollar sales in the sector have increased by $7.5 billion, a gain of 15.8 percent.
Store brand annual unit volume over the same period has risen by 2.3 billion, an improvement of 14.6 percent.
The results in the mass channel for 2017 pushed Nielsen’s store brands figures to positive territory across all outlets combined, despite weak performances for private label in supermarkets and drug stores. For total outlets, dollar sales for store brands was up 2.7 percent, and unit volume rose 1.4 percent. Correspondingly, store brand dollar market share in all outlets gained half a point—up to 18 percent—while unit share increased 0.6 points to 21.7 percent.
During 2017, store brand sales across all outlets measured by Nielsen came in at $122.3 billion, up from $119.1 billion, while units moved up to 44.6 billion from 43.9 billion.