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Price hikes, Omicron push Feb grocery sales to $1.3bn – IRI

14th March 2022 By Bridget O'Connell | | @foodtickernz

In partnership with IRI, Food Ticker now publishes a new monthly snapshot of New Zealand’s grocery channel, analysing sales value, department performance and market drivers.

Source: IRI

The impact of inflation and Omicron flowed through into grocery sales last month, with price rises largely behind a 5.8% increase in sales to $1.3bn in February, according to IRI.

The research firm’s March Grocery Market Overview, which covered the four weeks to 27 February 2022, reported the solid rise in sales compared with the same time last year, despite the current challenging economic backdrop and a strong performance in 2021.

The monthly increase was helped by a mini-spike in sales the week ended 20 February, when a surge in Omicron cases saw prepackaged grocery sales increase by 10% on the same week year ago. 

Breaking down the overall growth, IRI found that while consumers spent 5.8% more on groceries, the number of unit sold was only up a marginal 0.4% to 270 million, meaning shoppers were paying 5.5% more at the till for the same number of goods compared with February last year.

“Price per unit performance is up 5.5% suggesting inflation is driving the bulk of sales growth,” IRI said.

It also noted that in February many manufacturers and retailers – particularly in Auckland – were hit by Omicron absenteeism.

“There are also more factors at play, however, such as supply and staffing issues, meaning that some of this growth can be attributed to stock-on-shelf issues and the substitution of brands and pack-sizes.”

IRI said the price per unit growth was more apparent in non-food categories which saw a 6.8% jump, outstripping a 5.1% hike in the price per unit of food and beverage categories.

It also noted that private label outperformed branded products during the four-weeks to 27 February, when consumer confidence hit a new low falling to 81.7, according to the ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence index, a drop of 16 points from January and even lower than the onset of the pandemic in April 2020 of 84.8.

Source: IRI

In January, branded product sales were up 12.5% in dollar terms and 6.4% in units, while in February this contracted to a 5.8% dollar increase and 0.4% growth in units compared with the same period a year ago.

Private label goods, by contrast, had 5.9% dollar growth in February and 0.3% unit growth.

“With increases in mortgage rates, petrol and consumer goods pricing, many households are feeling’ the squeeze’,” IRI said.

On an annual basis, branded products rose 3.2% in value and unit sales were up 0.9%, while for private label the 12-month movement showed value contracting by 0.3% and unit sales down 3.8%.

Looking at the annual performance of overall grocery sales, IRI said Kiwis spent $16.5bn in supermarkets in the 12 month period.

This reflected overall channel growth of 2.7% compared with a year ago, and 11.8% compared with 2020.

Beverages continued to hold the top spot as the biggest growth department, up $88m on last year.

All in all, IRI said ten departments outperformed the total store with the pet department growing the fastest.



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