SAN ANTONIO – According to data collected and analyzed by 210 Analytics and IRI, perimeter retail food sales the week ended Aug. 16 came in at 10% above sales during the same timeframe in 2019, holding steady with the rest of the month. 

“While still highly elevated, the data shows a gradual softening of the more extreme lockdown trends in the grocery market,” said Jeremy Johnson, vice president of education for the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). “We seem to be settling into a steady pattern as consumers continue to prepare many more meals at home. That includes the very different back-to-school landscape that will significantly impact trend lines for many categories, including bakery and dairy. We will continue to monitor how the trends develop to help the industry best understand what the remainder of the year may look like.” 

The meat category came in at 16% above 2019 dollar sales and 7% above volume sales. Dollar wise, lamb (up 19.8%), beef (up 19.5%) and turkey (up 11.2%) were the top performing meats. Chicken was up 9.6% and pork was up 8.9%.   

“Between the continued social distancing mandates, highly elevated consumer concern about the virus, economic pressure and the impact of virtual schooling, meat sales are likely to hold well above 2019 levels for the foreseeable future,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, president of 210 Analytics. 

The deli department came in 7% below 2019 sales numbers. Deli prepared came in at 20% below 2019 sales with deli meat at 11% above and deli cheese at 11% above.    

The dairy department experienced a 13% gain in dollar sales compared to 2019 the week of Aug. 16. Top performers in the category were whipped toppings (up 22.3%), eggs (up 18.7%) and natural cheese (up 17.2%).  

“Retailers are mostly relying on pre-packaged sales to replace cold and hot food bar revenue. And while grab-and-go has long been a consumer favorite, pre-packaged does not quite have the same opportunity to bring back the full assortment for operators or the same mix and match flexibility for consumers,” said Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator with IDDBA. “We do hear from shoppers that portion size variety is an important solution to make sure pre-packaged items meet the needs of families of all sizes, as well as allow dishes to serve as sides or mains regardless of the size of the household.” 

Bakery sales were still down the week of Aug. 16, coming in at 5.9% below 2019 sales. Donuts held down the category, coming in at 36.3% below 2019 levels and rolls were down 11.4%. Bread was the best performer in the category, up 7.3%.          

In the produce category, dollar sales gains totaled 11.5% the week of Aug. 16. Fresh vegetables are still outperforming fresh fruit, with vegetable sales up 13.5% and fruit sales up 9.9%. The top performers in the department were cherries (up 49.6%), oranges (up 24.5%) and melons (up 20%).   

“While we no longer have the incredible spikes of the shelter-in-place weeks, fresh produce sales are still considerably higher than pre-pandemic levels,” said Joe Watson, vice president of membership and engagement for the Produce Marketing Association (PMA). “During the upcoming weeks, we will keep a close eye on snackable items to see how the very different back-to-school picture will impact fresh produce sales. Highlighting the availability of healthy fruit and vegetable snacks regardless of virtual or in-person education is a great way to help parents navigate the start of the school year.”