The most recent release of monthly sales data from the US Census Bureau reported that unadjusted retail sales at food and beverage stores posted a 30% increase from February to March of 2020, and a 26% increase over comparable sales in March 2019.
This reflects a few main factors:
- consumers stockpiling their pantries, freezers, and refrigerators ahead of stay-at-home orders, which then led many to limit their shopping trips
- the shift in eating patterns as schools were closed and children who had previously eaten meals from school cafeterias began eating at home
- the percentage of consumer food spending that has shifted from eating out to eating at home, as stay-at-home orders closed dine-in operations at restaurants and other foodservice outlets throughout the country
Expect April figures to remain above same-month 2019 patterns but likely not as high as in March 2020, which included a lot of panic buying and stockpiling that will have been reduced in April, when many stay-at-home orders had already taken hold. Still, dine-in operations remain closed and a large number of consumers are feeling economically uncertain or working at home, thus still limiting away-from-home food purchases.
Still, carryout and delivery foodservice spending will likely see a bump as consumers seek more meal variety or a break from cooking. The addition of more restaurants offering contact-free payments, carryout, or delivery will also boost sales.
For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s coverage of the packaging industry as well as our sister publisher Package Facts’ coverage of the food and beverage industry.