Grocery Store Sales Rebounded In December

Articles
January 21, 2010

Grocery Store Sales Rebounded In December

The government is releasing economic data that gives us a first look at what kind of year food retailers and restaurant operators had in 2009, and it was truly a mixed bag according to analysis by the Food Institute which has been tracking the U.S. food industry since 1928, prior to the great depression and now during what is being called the great recession. And the good news is that sales at the nation’s supermarkets ended the year on a high note.

The government is releasing economic data that gives us a first look at what kind of year food retailers and restaurant operators had in 2009, and it was truly a mixed bag according to analysis by the Food Institute which has been tracking the U.S. food industry since 1928, prior to the great depression and now during what is being called the great recession. And the good news is that sales at the nation’s supermarkets ended the year on a high note.

Following ten months of either declining or timid growth at the nation’s supermarket checkouts, grocers posted a significant 3.4% gain in sales during December versus a year earlier and the largest such increase since October of 2008. As the accompanying chart portrays, sales fluctuated from negative to positive each month during the past year and the end result was that 2009 sales at the nation’s supermarkets were unchanged between 2009 and 2008 at $527 billion.

And that upturn is even more impressive when one considers that prices for grocery products as reported in the Consumer Price Index actually fell 2.4% from a year earlier during December, so that increase in supermarket sales was not the result of higher prices but of consumers actually by more products. The Food Institute is still analyzing this trend and will be reporting more on it in the very near future.

Foodservice operators did not fare as well during December positing only a 1.2% increase in sales overall according to Census Bureau data. The 1.2% increase for the month, however, was the largest increase posted for this segment since April of 2009. Overall 2009 sales of $456 billion were up just 0.7% from a year earlier.

Sales at all retail food store and foodservice and drinking operations combined totaled $1.046 trillion in 2009, up only 0.5% from a year earlier but at least it was on the positive side. Overall retail sales as reported by the Census Bureau during 2009 fell 7%, and even when deducting motor vehicle and parts,  sales still fell 4.9%. Food sales, both at and away from home, were just about the only bright spot in the Retail Sales report.