The coronavirus has impacted every industry in one way or another, some positively, and some negatively. The grocery industry has found themselves caught in the middle. While there have been challenges with changing the in-store landscape and experience, the grocery industry has seen record setting sales in many departments.
It’s safe to assume that the biggest increase in sales would come from non-perishable foods. And while that holds true, the meat and produce departments have seen double digit growth since the start of the pandemic, and are still setting quarterly records as summer fades into fall. Let’s take a closer look at sales trends from this past May to learn more about what these two departments have seen in terms of numbers.
Compared with the same week in 2019, fresh produce generated an additional $187 million in sales during the week of May 24th – an additional 122 million pounds of product. At the time of this survey, fresh vegetables, which are up 20% in sales, alone accounted for double digit increases for 10 of the previous 11 weeks. While sales are still strong, these numbers have dropped by one or two percentage points per week since April, but still end up with double digit growth compared to previous years sales numbers.
Right before the pandemic hit, the meat department dollar and volume growth compared to the same days in 2019 was sitting at -4%. After the pandemic hit and the country started to settle into the “new normal” in May, meat department dollar sales were up 24.4%, boasting double-digit growth for 12 weeks running and reflecting an additional $6 billion sold compared to this same time period in 2019. While sales definitely skyrocketed due to people eating at home versus going out to eat, department wide purchase limits probably influenced sales as well; a classic case of supply versus demand.
When Independence Day rolled around, a much tougher holiday to beat year-over-year sales due to the nature of the holiday with more people grilling out and hosting family gatherings, stores still saw double digit growth with a 17.9% increase in dollar sales versus the same weekend last year. The week of the Fourth of July was the 17th week of double-digit gains since the pandemic. Department purchases in fresh meat increased by 8.4 million, or over 5.2% over 2019.
As restaurants open up again with outdoor and even indoor seating options in some states, these numbers will continue to trail off. However, 2020 will definitely give 2021 a run for their money.