During the week of April 12, many stores further sharpened safety measures, such as metered entry, asking shoppers to limit visits to one person per cart and encouraging consumers to wear masks and shop just once a week, while avoiding stocking up on any one item. Dairy and total store bakery saw elevated demand, whereas deli sales remained mixed. The fresh perimeter saw a wide range of performances. Boosted by a dollar sales increase of 42.9 percent in meat, the total perimeter increased 17.6 percent over the week of April 12 compared to the comparable week in 2019.
Easter week also marked the sixth week of the coronavirus-related grocery shopping patterns. Since the onset of coronavirus in the United States in early March, grocery retailing conditions have been unlike any experienced in recent history. Shoppers emptied stores for days and weeks on end with unprecedented pantry, fridge and freezer loading. This has resulted in incredible sales surges for center store and the perimeter alike. Easter week ending April 12 showed continued elevated levels for total store, center store, frozen and fresh.
Dairy had an extremely strong week as well, but the performance of the bakery and deli areas remained mixed—much like seen in the past few weeks. Jeremy Johnson, VP of education for IDDBA, said, “Easter celebrations were hardly typical this year with the vast majority of Americans under shelter-in-place or other social distancing mandates. Without a doubt this impacted meal choices and group celebrations. There certainly was a bump in the sales numbers for dairy, but deli prepared in particular continued to see a lot of negative pressure Easter week. We noticed a number of retailers running holiday-meal specials, but everyday prepared food sales are struggling. We will continue to track sales to help understand how trends develop.”
Dairy sales remain strong
Dairy had two very strong weeks and sales remained elevated the first week of April, at 30.6 percent higher than the comparable week in 2019.
“During these unusual times, scratch cooking, baking, comfort food and animal protein are back. Meat has been the top sales driver for the perimeter for weeks and dairy is close behind,” said Abrielle Backhaus, research coordinator with IDDBA. “Butter, eggs, cheese and milk remained sales powerhouses with dollar and volume sales continuing to sit well above the prior year levels. Social media platform Pinterest reports two interesting trends in this regard. First, baking bread is one of the fastest rising trends amid Covid-19. Pinterest reported a 4,400 percent surge in searches for ‘yeast-less bread recipes’, a 3,191 percent increase in searches for ‘bread in crockpot’ and a 1,499 percent jump in recipe searches for ‘sweet Amish bread.’ Second, food has always been huge on Pinterest, but as people cook more and encounter ingredients constraints, they’re looking for flexible, easy recipes.”
On the Retail Feedback Group’s Constant Customer Feedback (CCF) program, many shoppers wrote in about limited supply in dairy, frustrations with purchase maximums and out-of-stocks. Consumer media’s reporting on milk dumping has shoppers confused between what they are finding in-store and what they hear in the news. “I keep hearing about dairy farmers suffering, how can there not be availability? I could only buy one carton of eggs, no more than two gallons of milk, three bread items, I don’t get it.”
Across many stores, egg availability remains low. One shopper commented, “The egg section was still wiped out. I was looking for regular large or extra large eggs but all that was left was free-range. I bought one dozen just to have something, but I will go to another store to see what I can find there, which is exactly what I don’t want to be doing right now.” Comments like these are a reminder that even during the pandemic, clear customer communications are important to build supply chain understanding.
Butter and eggs continued to have the highest sales growth during the second week of April versus the comparable week in 2019, with natural cheese having the highest increase in absolute dollars. Natural cheese generated an additional $102 million in sales versus the same week in 2019, followed by eggs that sold an additional $76 million and milk, with an additional $59 million.
For information on deli and bakery, see complete report here.
Join IDDBA and 210 Analytics’ Anne-Marie Roerink on Thursday, April 23, at 11 a.m. CST, for the weekly Covid-19 Impact Report webinar. These weekly webinars will break down and debrief the reports and attendees also will be able to ask questions. Register for this opportunity here.