SAN ANTONIO – Moving into the second week of April, sales in fresh perimeter departments continued similar patterns since the onset of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Data released by 210 Analytics and IRI shows that total fresh perimeter sales were elevated 17.6% for the week ending on April 12 compared to the same timeframe in 2019. Within specific departments, produce sales were up 16.3%, dairy sales were up 31.3%, fresh bakery sales were down 18.8% and deli sales were down 27%. 

In the produce department, fresh vegetable sales were up 25.6%, nearly 20% higher than fresh fruit, which was up 7%. Top products within the department were potatoes (up 74.3%), sweet potatoes/yams (up 62.1%), oranges (up 58.4%) and onions (up 36.3%). 

“Easter is typically a big week for the produce department,” said Joe Watson, vice president of membership and engagement for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association (PMA). “But with social distancing in place, Easter celebrations and dinners were very different in makeup and size, which likely affected sales. On the other hand, the increased everyday demand on retail produce sales is likely to continue while shelter-in-place mandates are in effect, economic pressure is mounting, and shoppers seek fresh produce to go along with the items they have in their pantries 

Within the dairy category, eggs (up 67.5%), butter (up 62.4%), whipped toppings (56.1%), sour cream (up 53.4%) and cream cheese (up 51.9%) were the top sales items. Natural cheese experienced a 41.7% bump and processed cheese was up 43.8%.   

Overall, results are still mixed within the deli category. Deli cheese is still up with a 14.5% increase over 2019. But this is the first week that deli meat sales sank below 2019 numbers, 0.5% behind last year. The biggest impact on the category is still plummeting sales for deli-prepared foods (down 47%), a category that many grocers have closed out in response to COVID-19.   

“The decline in trips, consumers’ desire to move to the store quickly and the closing of service counters for some stores is starting to wreak havoc on deli meat in recent weeks,” said Jonna Parker, fresh team lead for IRI. “But we are seeing an interesting development relative to those stores that are providing deli meat as a grab-and-go option. This had already started to gear up in the past two years, but has really taken off amid COVID-19.” 

Within the instore bakery category bread sales are up 9% and croissants are up 3.4%, but decreased sales in donuts (down 54.7%), cakes (down 23.3%) and cookies (down 15.8%) are still dragging the category down.  

For sales reports on individual items within the dairy, deli and bakery categories, view the full report here