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Food Service Industry Updates Retail Industry Updates

Food Retailers Eke Out Sales Gain in April; Restaurants Claw Back Market Share

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Food and beverage dollar sales at grocery stores in April managed to top record-high pandemic-driven sales of a year earlier by 0.3% after slipping 10.4% in March, according to data from the U.S. Census.

Food and beverage sales for the first four months of 2021 were 1% higher than a year earlier and at a record $281.4 billion. But holding that increase may be difficult in coming months as average May-June 2020 sales topped $73 billion, more than the $71.3 billion reported for April.

In the foodservice sector, the 119.8% increase in foodservice sales this April over a year ago must be put into perspective as foodservice sales hit a low point in April 2020 when the pandemic entrenched itself. Even so, the $66 billion reported by the U.S. Census this April topped the nearly $64 billion in sales that foodservice operators reported in April 2019. Substantial inroads have been established, perhaps aided by the government’s stimulus payments.

Thus, the foodservice share of the two sectors combined climbed to 48.1% in April from 46.9% a month earlier and a low of 29.7% last April. It has been a bumpy ride for foodservice, and the fight for share of stomach continues.

Brian Todd is president of Brian Todd & Associates, a food and beverage consulting firm based in Emerson, N.J., that offers strategic advisory, economic analysis and customized research. Todd previously spent 39 years with The Food Institute, serving as president from 2002 to 2019. He can be reached at brian@briantoddassociates.com.

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