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COVID-19 Shifting the Industry

By Abrielle Backhaus posted 03-26-2020 14:09


We know that the COVID-19 virus has been top of mind and impacting the industry in numerous ways. We see new information in the news daily. Grocers are ramping up and streamlining hiring to keep pace with demand caused by coronavirus restrictions causing a supply issue for foodservice distributors and manufacturers. Consumers are exhibiting unique shopping behavior as well, and in some areas shelves are empty of key items including some fresh food items.

The best way to keep alert is to turn to data. By recording, analyzing, and utilizing data we can recognize consumer patterns and behaviors to better meet their needs. IRI Marketing has shared reports with IDDBA on COVID-19 and how it is affecting consumer sentiment and grocery and buying behavior in our segments of dairy, deli, and bakery.

In addition to these reports, IRI frequently updates macro trend trackers to help companies successfully manage real-time supply/demand chain issues and determine how to best handle promotions, out-of-stocks, pricing and assortment to meet the changing needs of consumers. CPG and retail industries are reacting to acute changes in consumer behavior, shopper demands, and supply chain challenges, visit IRI’s COVID-19 Insights Portal for more. IRI also launched a reports dashboard that continuously tracks the daily impact of COVID-19 on consumers and the CPG and retail industries, which you can view here.

In the 52 weeks ending February 23, in Total Perimeter we saw units up vs year ago (YA) with stronger growth in the cities that saw the earliest cases, especially Seattle/Tacoma.


The week of March 15 saw unprecedented increases in sales across the grocery store – for the first time ever, single week U.S. multi-outlet food sales topped $24.8 billion. For the week ending March 15, 2020, total store sales were up 62.5% (even 55% higher than the week before) and perimeter departments grew 45%, according to IRI. Where in the early weeks, non-edible categories such as paper goods, disinfectants, toilet paper and hand sanitizer were the biggest drivers of sales, food categories took over as the lead growth area as COVID-19 related measures sharpened. For the same week, non-edibles grew 60.4% and edibles grew an unbelievable 71.1%. (click here for Total Store Data)

While both in-store bakery and deli prepared foods saw extremely small growth relative to the total store in the week ending March 15, IRI Worldwide’s Jonna Parker anticipates both departments to remain important as shoppers move from stock-up to ongoing needs for at-home meals, snacks, and lunches. 

According to IRI’s website, “Across the aisles, sales reached an unprecedented high in the week ending March 15…Center-of-store food and beverage driving 40% of all sales, although fresh foods including meat, produce and baked goods were also in-demand for at-home meal solutions.”

(See attached graphics for Deli Data and Bakery Data)