Retail sales in March 2021: one year after unprecedented growth
Potato sales for The third quarter (January-March 2021) of the 2021 marketing year caught up with the change in purchasing habits induced by the pandemic. March 2020 was an unprecedented time for potato sales in grocery stores as panic buying began a year-long streak of record dollar and volume sales. It’s no surprise that March 2021 sales couldn’t keep up with the buying patterns that occurred during that crazy month a year ago.
While potato sales for the first two months of 2021 remained higher than the same period of the previous year, the month of March lowered total in-store potato sales. Dollar sales fell -0.5%, while volume sales fell -3.6%. Store-wide sales remained above pre-pandemic (January-March 2019) levels, showing that consumer demand remains strong for potatoes.
The vast majority of the March 2021 drop in sales came from canned and dehydrated potatoes, both of which were wiped off the shelves last March. Frozen and chilled potatoes, along with deli sides, were the three categories that saw sales growth in dollars and volume from 2020. Chilled potatoes saw the biggest increase as a percentage, with an increase of 5.3% in dollars and 2.5% in volume. Last March, accompaniments prepared in deli meats were the only category to experience a decline in sales due to the closure of several of these spaces. The increase this year shows the recovery of this department.
Sales of fresh potatoes were down 3.5% in dollars and 5.1% in volume from the previous year. The drop in sales is attributed to russet, red, white and purple potatoes. Yellow, small, mixed and fry potatoes continued to grow in dollar and volume for the entire quarter, including March. The largest percentage increase was in mixed potatoes, with growth of 21.5% in dollars and 27% in volume. While the majority of packaging declined in sales, the one to four pound bags continued to grow in dollars and volume.
While a lot has changed over the past year, sales have stabilized more predictably for potatoes. Both dollar and volume sales remain higher than before panic buying, showing that consumer demand for potatoes at home is still strong.
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