SAN ANTONIO – While still outperforming 2019 sales numbers, perimeter sales dropped across the board the first week of August compared to the entire month of July.  

According to data collected and analyzed by 210 Analytics and IRI, perimeter sales the week ending on Aug. 2 came in 8.2% above sales during the same timeframe in 2019, versus a range of 10-13% above 2019 sales throughout the four weeks of July. 

“The next few months are likely to be impacted by a very different education outlook as well,” said Jonna Parker, team lead of fresh for IRI. “States and school districts are applying mixed systems of pushing back the starting date or are offering virtual education or even a hybrid virtual plus face-to-face education models, which all impact year-over-year dairy, deli and bakery retail sales as many more school-aged children and teens will remain at home.”  

The dairy department experienced a 12% gain in dollar sales compared to 2019 in the first week of August. Top performers in the category were whipped toppings (up 23.1%), natual cheese (up 17.6%) and eggs (up 17.2%). All of those percentages are below sales gains from the last several weeks. 

The deli department experienced a slight gain compared to last week, coming in at 8.8% below 2019 sales numbers. While deli prepared came in at 22% below 2019 sales, deli meat came in 11% above and deli cheese at 10% above. 

“The rise in the number of COVID-19 cases is once more putting a lot of pressure on trips, which challenges deli prepared sales,” said Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator with the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). “Retailers are carefully weighing the types of items that work well for pre-packaged offerings and focus on the top sellers to optimize throughput.” 

Bakery sales were still down the week of Aug. 2, coming in at 7.7% below 2019 sales. Holding down the category were donuts (down 37.7%) and rolls (down 10.9%). Croissants were the best performer in the category, up 10.2%.        

The meat category came in at 15% above 2019 dollar sales and 6% above volume sales, significantly lower than the last few weeks. Dollar wise, lamb (up 30.6%), beef (up 20.2%) and pork (up 12.3%) were the top performing meats. Chicken was up 7.9% and turkey was up 8.6%. 

“Economic pressure tends to have big impacts on grocery shopping, including channel choice, the type of items and quantity bought, the importance of price and promotions and more,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, president of 210 Analytics. “Meat sales may have also been impacted in preparation for hurricane/tropical storm Isaias that left several hundred thousand consumers without power along the East Coast.” 

In the produce category, dollar sales gains totaled 8.4%. Fresh vegetables are still outperforming fresh fruit, with vegetable sales up 13% and fruit sales up 4.4%. The top performers in the department were oranges (up 29.4%), corn (up 23.2%) and peppers (up 20%). 

“There are many factors going into the produce at retail sales puzzle right now, with the market growing more complex by the week,” said Joe Watson, vice president of membership and engagement for the Produce Marketing Association (PMA). “Consumer concern over the virus remains very high, economic pressure is mounting, hurricane Isaias left several hundred thousand households without power all along the eastern seaboard and all the while consumers are struggling with meal planning and new recipe ideas. All this affects fresh produce sales at retail, some positively, some negatively.”