KANSAS CITY, MO. – Entering the second half of May, elevated grocery sales patterns continued in most of the fresh perimeter departments. Data from 210 Analytics and IRI shows sales in the fresh perimeter for the week ending on May 17 were 11.6% above sales during the same timeframe in 2019, down from the previous week, which saw sales elevated by 16.9%.    

The meat department remained a strong performer but weakened compared to previous weeks with dollar sales up 26.3%. Turkey (up 39.5%) and lamb (up 40%) were the top performing meats. Chicken was up 16.9%, pork was up 21.2% and beef was up 29.1%.    

There was still a significant gap between dollars and volume sales growth, with the entire meat category seeing volume sales up by 13%. The widest gap among products was a 15.4% gap between turkey dollar and volume sales followed by an 38.7% gap for turkey and a 41% gap for lamb.  

“Beef and pork facilities continue to struggle, with cattle slaughter off 14% from year-ago levels and hog plants down 8% from the same period,” said Christine McCracken, executive director of food and agribusiness for Rabobank. “The huge backlog of animals created during the downturn is only getting larger, which should limit price increases in coming weeks. The situation in poultry is a little worse this week, with growing numbers of plants experiencing COVID-19-related disruption in the Southeast and production dropping 1% from the prior week.”  

Dairy saw a sales boost of 23% over 2019 sales the week of May 17. Top performers in the category were eggs (up 39%), whipped toppings (up 38%) and butter (up 38%). Natural cheese was up 32%, while processed cheese was up 24%.    

“Dairy has been a pandemic powerhouse,” said Abrielle Backhaus, research coordinator with IDDBA. “We continue to see very strong consumer demand for items such as milk, cheese, eggs, butter and creamers and this week we saw seven out of the 12 areas track more than 30% ahead of the same week last year.”  

Like in previous weeks, the bakery and deli departments were still struggling in the week leading up to May 17. The deli department continues to see mixed results. Overall, department sales were down 16.4%. Deli cheese was up at 14.4%, deli meat was up by 4.9% and deli prepared foods were down 31.6%.  

“We know pre-pandemic, restaurants were a tough competitor for the dinner dollar when consumers decided to forego cooking the meal themselves,” said Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator with IDDBA. “When people were not in the mood to cook or out of time to cook, restaurants win two out of three occasions as deli prepared was often simply not on the radar. As restaurants are opening back up, it is important for deli prepared to ramp up its presence and visibility too, albeit within the new realities of social distancing.”  

Instore bakeries continued to see mixed results as well, resulting in entire department sales being down 17.1%. Within the department donuts (down 49.8%), cakes (down 19.7%) and rolls (down 13.7%) are most impacting the category. Bread and croissants continued to perform well, up 9% and 0.4%, respectively.    

“Sales for the deli, dairy and bakery departments have been mixed since the onset of coronavirus in early March,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, principal at 210 Analytics. “Next week’s report, covering week 11 of vastly changed shopping and spending patterns, is the week of Memorial Day weekend. As the unofficial start of grilling season, this is often a big week for grocery retailing and one that typically provides a nice boost for bakery items.”