Last updated on May 24th, 2022 at 03:24 pm
In its Easter 2022 overview, the National Retail Federation found that consumer engagement was nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, with 80 percent celebrating. Average per person spending on all holiday-related purchases was $170 – a three-year low. Amid 40-year high inflation, consumers expected to spend more on food, but pulled back on spending in all other categories, including clothing, gifts, flowers and decorations.
“The April 2022 IRI survey of primary shoppers found that 90 percent of consumers believe food prices are somewhat or a lot higher than last year, of whom 96 percent are concerned about it,” said Jonna Parker, team lead fresh for IRI. “This includes 53 percent who are extremely concerned – the first time this number has moved past half of the population. This compares to 23 percent of consumers being extremely concerned over coronavirus in this same survey – meaning inflation has a far greater grip on the nation’s food spending than COVID-19 at this point in time.”
IRI, IDDBA and 210 Analytics continue to team up to document the ever-changing nature of the marketplace.
The price per unit across all foods and beverages in the IRI-measured multi-outlet stores, including supermarkets, club, mass, supercenter, drug and military, accelerated further to an increase of 10.7 percent in the four weeks ending April 24 versus the same four weeks in 2021. Inflation was in the double digits in the center of the store as well as in perishables and compared to April 2019, prices across all foods and beverages were up 21.3 percent.
On a per unit basis, bakery and deli inflation were right around the average price increase seen across total food and beverages. Dairy inflation was slightly higher in April 2022 versus year ago, at 13.8 percent. Due to the weight-variability of many non-UPC baked goods, specialty cheeses and deli prepared items, volume is not equivalized across all three spaces.
“The four April weeks generated a little over $5 billion in dairy sales, an increase of 12.6 percent year-on-year in addition to being higher than March sales,” said Jessica Ives, professional development coordinator with IDDBA. “Also encouraging is the consistency of the weekly sales levels, all at least $1.2 billion, which means demand is holding strong – certainly when compared to pre-pandemic levels. Easter week and the week leading up to the holiday were bigger, with robust dollars and unit sales compared to year ago, of course influenced by the later timing.”
Milk was easily the biggest seller in April 2022, at $1.3 billion, up from $1.2 billion in March. The next biggest dairy sellers were natural cheese and eggs. The latter overtook yogurt with high inflation due to the Avian Influenza epidemic hitting livestock. The price per unit for fresh eggs reached $3.71, which was up 31.5 percent versus April of 2021. The two columns on the far right of the table below show the change versus year ago in dollars and pounds. The difference between the two percentages is a good proxy for the combination of inflation and fewer sales promotions.
“The deli department remained one of the few areas of the store to drive dollars and unit gains,” said Heather Prach, director of education for IDDBA “This is a clear signal that consumers are still willing to pay a little more to save a little time, even amid high inflation. Life is back to its pre-pandemic hecticness in addition to people looking for a little help in the kitchen after two years of cooking significantly more than they had been.”
April 2022 deli cheese sales totaled $579 million, which was up significantly from $562 million in March. Sales were up 1.3 percent over year ago despite very low inflation. “The difference between the holiday week sales, at $159 million, and the typical weeks shows the impact celebrations can have on deli cheese,” Prach said. “This is why so many retailers have self-invented holidays or a ‘cheese of the month’ type special, to drive consumer interest and impulse purchases.”
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