SAN ANTONIO – The week of the July 4 holiday, most perimeter departments saw boosts in sales, adding to year-over-year gains compared to previous weeks. According to the latest data from 210 Analytics and IRI, the total fresh perimeter experienced a 10.3% jump in sales over the same timeframe in 2019.  

“Independence Day brought another double-digit week for many departments around the store,” said Jeremy Johnson, vice president of education for the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). “With July Fourth behind us, we now have seven of non-holiday weeks until Labor Day. As states are rolling back the re-opening of restaurants and businesses alike, we may see renewed engagement with grocery driven by virus fears as well as economic pressure. The big difference will be that this time consumers have already been doing the preparation for the vast majority of meals for four months running. Time-saving solutions will play a bigger role and the dairy, deli and bakery departments have great expertise in helping consumers mix scratch with convenience items.” 

The dairy department experienced a 13.4% gain in dollar sales compared to 2019. Top performers in the category were whipped toppings (up 21.2%), eggs (up 20.7%) and natural cheese (up 20.4%).   

The deli department had a better week because of the holiday, with the entire department down only 7.7%. Deli cheese sales were up 7.9%, deli meat sales were up 9.7%, this is the first week since the start of the pandemic that deli meat has outperformed deli cheese. Deli prepared was down 19%.  

“Consumers have been preparing way more meals than normal and are getting tired of both meal planning and cooking every meal from scratch,” said Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator with IDDBA. “And that is one of our biggest opportunities during these next few months. Deli prepared, in all its forms, can uniquely bring the kind of convenience consumers crave to combine with items made from scratch.” 

Bakery sales were slightly improved the week of July 5, coming in at 6% below 2019 sales. Holding down the category were donuts (down 38.8%), rolls (down 9.9%) and breakfast items (down 2.3%). Croissants were the best performer in the category, up 12.9%.   

Still in double digit dollar sales gains, the meat department totaled sales 17.9% above sales in the same timeframe of 2019. Dollar wise, lamb (up 37.2%), beef (25.4%) and pork (up 22.1%) were the top performing meats. Chicken was up 11.7% and turkey was up 19.7%.         

In the produce category, dollar sales gains fell to 9.1%. Fresh vegetables are still outperforming fresh fruit, with vegetable sales up 13.9% and fruit sales retaining a slight gain of 5.2%. The top performers in the department were oranges (up 47.6%), mushrooms (up 24.4%) and peppers (up 19.4%).    

“Independence Day is always a big holiday for fresh produce, so this is not an easy bar to beat,” said Joe Watson, vice president of membership and engagement for the Produce Marketing Association (PMA). “Despite all that has changed amid the pandemic, much is the same as well. Cherries, melons, corn and more all lived up to their holiday strength reputations and helped drive the significant boost over last year’s numbers. Now we need to keep that summer spirit alive in the next seven weeks until Labor Day. We know many people are having staycations, are looking to build their immune systems and yet others are at a loss for new meal ideas. All these are big opportunities for fresh produce.”