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Retail Industry Updates Supply Chain Industry Updates

Less Hoarding Equals Fewer Out of Stocks at the Grocery Store

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Out of stocks at the grocery store are slowly becoming out of mode as more people adjust to the ongoing pandemic and stop hoarding products.

According to Chicago-based market researcher The NPD Group, the grocery cases and shelves left barren in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis are getting back to their pre-COVID states. In the week ending May 28, 68 percent of U.S. grocery shoppers reported to NPD that they hadn’t encountered any out of stocks of the foods and beverages they were shopping for during the week.

However, 32 percent said they had encountered out of stocks, with 51 percent of consumers saying they weren’t able to purchase the meat or poultry item they were looking for in the week ending May 28. The shortage of meat and poultry products was the result of supply chain issues as well as COVID-19 outbreaks at processing plants and resulting labor shortages. But that percentage is down from the 61 percent who reported meat and poultry out of stocks the previous week ending May 21.

Pasta, rice and beans also improved in availability with 10 percent of consumers reporting out of stocks of these categories during the week compared to 24 percent of consumers in the previous week. But a greater number of consumers, 33 percent, reported out of stocks of water, coffee, tea, and juice in the week ending May 28 compared to 25 percent of consumers unable to find these beverages in the previous week. Other categories where a higher percentage of consumers were reporting out of stocks in the week ending May 28 compared to the previous week were: fruits, vegetables and potatoes, increasing to 25 percent of shoppers from 18%; dairy (milk, cheese, dairy alternatives), increasing to 17 percent of consumers from 8 percent of consumers in week ending May 21.   

Although consumers have moved on from the panic grocery shopping they did in the early stages of the pandemic, they still maintain the same level of foods and beverages inventory. Across all categories, there has been only a 3 percent drop in the estimated number of food and beverage packages on hand in homes compared to early April, NPD found.

“With the majority of households still preparing all their meals and snacks in-home in May and the continuing supply chain challenges, limited or out of stock situations are inevitable,” says  David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “Considering the unprecedented situations the COVID-19 pandemic has presented over the last few months, the U.S. food supply chain has held up remarkably well.”

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