SAN ANTONIO - The latest monthly COVID-19 impact reports compiled by 210 Analytics and IRI show that fresh perimeter sales remain more than 10% above pre-pandemic levels. In February, the fresh perimeter clocked an 11.3% increase over February 2020. 

“In December, we saw consumers moving around much more than any other month during the pandemic,” said Jonna Parker, team lead fresh for IRI. “But come February, trips and basket size trends moved back to the patterns that we saw throughout most of 2020. Shopping trips fell below 2020 levels in February, whereas the spend per trip remained highly elevated. This is good news for dairy, deli cheese, deli meat and packaged bakery sales that have benefited from the home-centric spending patterns. However, perimeter bakery and prepared food sales thrive on frequent trips and have experienced sales pressure for many months now.”  

The meat department continued to be a strong category with overall department sales up 15.4%. Dollar wise, lamb (up 30.7%) was the top performing meat. Beef was up 17.2%, chicken was up 10.3%, turkey was up 8.5% and pork was up 13.2%.  

The deli department continues to see mixed results, although deli prepared is starting to make a comeback. Deli cheese and meat saw gains of 21.9% and 13.9%, respectively. While deli prepared saw a loss of 3.7%, deli entertaining experienced a gain of 9.8%.  

“In March 2021, sales will go up against the two biggest weeks in the history of grocery retailing and will likely turn negative versus year ago for dairy, deli meat, deli cheese and the bakery aisle,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, president of 210 Analytics. “However, based on the pattern of the last few months, sales are likely still going to track ahead against the baseline of 2019. At the same time, the recovery for deli prepared and the in-store bakery have recovered enough that sales will likely start to track ahead of 2020 numbers.”