Analysis: Promotions Down in Food Retail

From Progressive Grocer, Dec. 14:

As the new year looms, promotional activity in the food retail world has leveled off, according to a new analysis from Nielsen.

With fewer promotional offers being made available to shoppers than pre-COVID times, consumers’ grocery bills are higher than this same time last year.

The findings come as the holiday shopping season heats up and as consumers continue to load their pantries as the virus surges across the country.

In its new report, Nielsen found that:

  • In November 2020, consumers paid +3.1 percentage points more for the same popular grocery items than they did at this time last year.
  • For context, this number was +3.2 percentage points for October 2020 (compared to October 2019) and +3.5 percentage points for September 2020 (compared to September 2019).
  • However, Thanksgiving saw some return of promotional offers for a brief period of time compared to the suppression of promotional offers during recent months. Yet these offers were not enough to offset inflation of prices. 
  • By the end of November 2020, 27.5% of units were sold on promotion, a 6.1 percentage point decline compared to November 2019. This means shoppers have less opportunity to purchase items on sale and save at the register.
  • For shoppers, this means they are paying more than the pre-COVID time period.
  • This is prevalent in the Grocery department, where the percent of units sold on promotion are down -6.1 percentage points versus pre-COVID levels.
  • The household care department’s portion of units sold on in-store promotion is down -11.6 percentage points versus pre-COVID levels.