SAN ANTONIO – Americans have spent the last few weeks buying larger amounts of food and stocking up to stay home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine in the US, causing astronomical sales numbers compared to 2019. 

For the week ending on March 29, sales in the meat department are still up, with a 36% increase compared to a similar week in 2019, according to a report compiled by 210 Analytics president Anne-Marie Roerink and IRI.  

Still a significant increase from 2019, that number shrinks in comparison to meat sales for the week of March 22, which were up a total of 92%, and the week of March 15, which saw an 80% increase over 2019. 

Grocery retailers have been increasingly limiting store hours and limiting the number of items per household, such as packages of chicken or ground beef that shoppers can buy, which may be part of the reason the numbers for the week of March 29 didn’t match the previous week. 

In specific categories, turkey was up 60%, beef was up 37%, pork was up 31%, chicken was up 28% and lamb was up 9%. 

Roerink predicts that with the majority of states putting a stay at home order in place by the first week of April, stock-up piling will likely taper off as pantries and freezers are already full. She notes that the many American who have been laid off are likely to be influenced by cost-saving measures such as buying private brands, smaller packages and amounts and seeking out promotions. 

“Consumers are settling into new realities of social distancing and are confident there will be ample food,” Roerink said,.  

But added, “increased everyday demand is likely to continue while social distancing measures are in effect. Shoppers are preparing more home-cooked meals across all meal occasions, from breakfast to dinner.”