Inflation Boosts To 1st Quarter Sales For Food Retailers

Articles
April 21, 2011

Inflation Boosts To 1st Quarter Sales For Food Retailers

Despite the Easter holiday falling much later this year than last, sales at the nation’s grocery stores posted the highest gain in a year during March, rising 4.1% to $45.6 billion according to government data analyzed by The Food Institute. In 2010, the holiday fell on Apr. 4, meaning that some of the holiday sales bounce came in March last year. That will not be the case for 2011 however, with a late-April Easter. And, with food inflation on the rise to more typical levels than the past two years, it is possible that the April sales figures will show a comfortable bounce upward from 2011.

Despite the Easter holiday falling much later this year than last, sales at the nation’s grocery stores posted the highest gain in a year during March, rising 4.1% to $45.6 billion according to government data analyzed by The Food Institute. In 2010, the holiday fell on Apr. 4, meaning that some of the holiday sales bounce came in March last year. That will not be the case for 2011 however, with a late-April Easter. And, with food inflation on the rise to more typical levels than the past two years, it is possible that the April sales figures will show a comfortable bounce upward from 2011.

And looking at the entire first quarter, the Food Institute reports that sales at food stores rose 3.6% to $146 billion. At the same time retail food price inflation was 2.9% or about 80% of that 3.6% gain in sales indicating that the increase in food sales was mostly the result of higher prices, not gains in physical movement.

It should be noted that sales at the nation’s supermarkets were up only 3.2% during the two months ended Mar. 1 as this data runs a month behind other categories.  Supermarkets account for roughly 85% of sales at all food stores notes The Food Institute. And, that 3.2% gain is not much higher than the 2.5% rate of inflation for food at home in the Jan. 1-Mar. 1 period.

On the foodservice side, sales over prior year levels posted their highest gain in over a year during March as the nation’s eating and drinking places rang up $42.3 billion in sales during March, 5.7% more than the same month last year. After almost two years of extremely tepid sales at restaurants, consumers seem to be opening their wallets a bit wider than they had been according to The Food Institute. Through the first quarter of 2011, sales at these outlets rose 4.6% to $117.3 billion.?The Food Institute estimates that during the first quarter, sales at full-service restaurants were up 5.8%, outpacing the overall growth. Limited service (fast-food) sales, meanwhile, rose 3.6%, -- less than the overall gain.  Drinking place sales, meanwhile, were relatively stagnant, rising just 1.0%.

For more in retail and foodservice sales, be sure to turn to The Food Institute at www.foodinstitute.com.