For the first time since December of last year, food and beverage store sales topped $50 billion in May, reaching $50.7 billion, according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by The Food Institute.
For the first time since December of last year, food and beverage store sales topped $50 billion in May, reaching $50.7 billion, according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by The Food Institute. That was still only 1.7% above the same month last year however although it was 6.2% more than April. This figure includes all food stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, meat and poultry stores, bakeries and so forth. Through the first five months of 2010, food and beverage store operators rang up $239.6 billion in sales. That represented 13.7% of all retail sales last month in the United States. A year ago, those stores accounted for 13% of all retail sales.
Grocery stores, 95% of which are supermarkets, saw sales rise 1.9% from the same month a year ago and were up a healthy 6.3% from the prior month. And with overall food inflation through June 1 relatively flat, that appears to be a true increase in volume and was even about a full percentage point greater than the approximately 1% growth in population from a year earlier. So consumers are still keeping their dining room lights turned on during the uncertain economic situation.
At the same time eating and drinking place sales increased just 1.7% from a year earlier during May on the heels of a more than healthy 4.4% increase a month earlier. Consumers appeared to close their wallets at restaurants somewhat during the month due to the uncertainty in the economic outlook in the U.S. While the Food Institute estimates that growth at full-service restaurants outpaced that at fast food outlets during the month, by 2.7% compared to 0.5%, that growth was less than half of the revised 6.8% gain seen a month earlier when full service restaurant sales were $17.5 billion. It appears that from time to time consumers decide to splurge a bit and dine at full service restaurants. Indeed, that was the case in April, when full service restaurant sales rose nearly 7%, while the limited service or fast-food counterparts rose about 3.1%. Based on Food Institute estimates however, spending slowed considerably in May as full service sales increased only an estimated 2.7%, and limited service outlets saw sales rise only an estimated 0.5%. Overall, eating and drinking sales during the first five months of 2010 stood at $193.9 billion -- just 1.9% more than a year earlier.
And a look at the sales numbers from month to month shows that consumers remain extremely uncertain as there is no consistent pattern to the changes at either retail food stores or eating and drinking places. During months when it appears the economy is on an upswing, shoppers will spend more on their food purchases and from time to time may even splurge a little as they did in April, according to The Food Institute
Nonetheless, Americans have to eat and are on course to spend even more this year at restaurants and food stores than the $1.04 trillion they spent a year ago.
Each month, the Food Institute monitors economic trends and benchmarks in the food industry and reports on those changes in The Food Institute Report. For more, go to www.foodinstitute.com.