SAN ANTONIO – The week of July 26, perimeter sales continued to experience double digit gains over sales in the same timeframe of 2019. The latest data from 210 Analytics and IRI shows that the perimeter had a 12% sales gain in the last week of July. 

“Economic pressure and virus concerns are keeping the majority of food dollars in the retail channel,” said Jeremy Johnson, vice president of education for the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). “There is renewed focus on minimizing store visits and funneling all purchases for the week into that one store trip, with a big uptick for traditional grocery. Where dairy and other departments benefit from this pandemic shopping behavior, success in deli prepared is closely aligned with more frequent trips. Bakery, with its higher reliance on special occasion and impulse, is also negatively impacted by rising virus concerns.”  

The dairy department experienced a 15% gain in dollar sales compared to 2019. Top performers in the category were whipped toppings (up 25.2%), natual cheese (up 21.3%) and cream cheese (up 21%).   

The deli department dropped into a double-digit loss compared to 2019 for the time since June. Deli cheese sales were up 12.1%, deli meat sales were up 11.2%, and deli prepared was down 23.5%.     

“Sales of refrigerated, UPC packaged meals continue to strengthen each week, now up 15.2% versus the same week last year,” said Jonna Parker, team lead of fresh for IRI. “This is a clear indicator that consumers are looking for convenience-focused items, including sides, entrees and pasta solutions after more than four months of preparing nearly all meals at home. But shelf life is also important. Refrigerated, pre-packaged items often offer clear and longer use-by dates that appeal to consumers’ dual desire for longevity and freshness.”  

Bakery sales were still down the week of July 19, coming in at 6% below 2019 sales. Holding down the category were donuts (down 38.4%) and rolls (down 11.6%). Croissants were the best performer in the category, up 12.4%.       

The meat category came in at 22% above 2019 dollar sales and 11% above volume sales. Dollar wise, lamb (up 39.2%), beef (up 27.5%) and pork (up 20.6%) were the top performing meats. Chicken was up 12% and turkey was up 16.8%. In volume sales, while lamb (up 28%), turkey (up 13.2%) and pork (up 11.7%) saw the highest increases. 

In the produce category, dollar sales gains totaled 11.7%. Fresh vegetables are still outperforming fresh fruit, with vegetable sales up 16.7% and fruit sales up 7.5%. The top performers in the department were corn (up 32.7%), mushrooms (up 27.4%) and cherries (up 21.6%). This the first time in a few months that oranges were not at the top of the category, or even in the top 10 performers.      

“The resurgence in COVID-19 cases along with economic pressure is shifting food dollars back to retail once more,” said Joe Watson, vice president of membership and engagement for the Produce Marketing Association (PMA). “The market is only growing more complex. The rising concern is likely to bring back some of the early pandemic behaviors, including stocking up for multiple weeks. But at the same time, consumers are struggling with meal planning after four months of preparing many more meals and snacks than they did pre-pandemic.”