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2023 SN Category Guide
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The 2023 SN Category Guide: Welcome to inflation mania

Dollar sales were up across categories this past year; unit sales, not so much

Chloe Riley, headshot 2023.jpgChloe Riley is the Executive Editor of Supermarket News, which delivers the ultimate in competitive business intelligence, news and information for executives in the food retail and grocery industry. A graduate of the School of Journalism at Columbia College Chicago, Chloe previously served as a Digital Strategist at SEO firm Profound Strategy, Associate Editor at B2B hospitality mag HOTELS Magazine, as well as CEO of her own digital strategy company, Chlowe. She lives in Woodstock, Illinois. 

Price increases due to inflation affected product dollar sales almost across the board at supermarkets across the U.S. this year, according to our 2023 Category Guide.

In center store, the two categories that saw the largest sales were salty snacks and carbonated beverages — both saw double-digit gains in dollar sales for the 52 weeks ending June 20, according to Circana sales data. Unit sales for both high-volume categories were down for the year, however. 

Among the fastest-growing center store items in terms of dollar sales were water filters, as shoppers prioritize removing contaminants from tap water, while at the same time transitioning away from single-use plastic bottles. Premixed cocktails and coolers also showed strong growth in both dollars and units, and shoppers have been gravitating towards the convenience, quality, and increasing variety of these items.

Most fresh-food categories also benefited from inflated prices while still struggling to increase unit sales volume, even nominal highfliers like dairy and bakery.

All other fresh categories generated sales gains for the year, including meat (+4.7% to $90.3 billion), produce (+5.2% to $80 billion), and deli (+8.5% to $50.1 billion), while seafood sales was the only reported decline (falling 1.1% to $7.3 billion).

The top gainers by sales dollars this year contain multiple items that fall into the prepared food options, which have been steadily growing in demand lately. Dollar sales gains occurred across lunch combos (up 47.3%), doughnut party platters (up 46.6%), and lunch meat party platters (up 42.8%).

Top sales decliners tell their own story. Olives showed the biggest decline in sales dollars at -45.9% with a similar -46.6% in lower unit sales. Pastry crusts and shells declined in dollar sales at -32.9% and a -52.4% decline in unit sales, perhaps pointing to the rise of shoppers who are starting to treat themselves with small indulgences (and baking less at home).

June saw a sharp drop in grocery inflation, continuing an unbroken string of declines that began last August. Who knows? Perhaps by next year, our category guide may be telling a different story…

TAGS: Meat Deli Bakery
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