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Private label sales rose 8.2% in first half of year

The beverage category experienced the largest store brand dollar sales gain over the past 52 weeks, up 19%

For the first half of 2023, private label continued to post record sales and share as it has for the past 18 months, according to data from PLMA and Circana.   

Store brand dollar sales across all U.S. retail outlets increased 8.2%, vs. a gain of 5.1% for national brands, according to Circana data from the six-month period ending June 18, compared to the same six-month period in 2022.  

That extends private label’s powerful two-year run. Measured against the first six months of 2021, dollar sales during the same period this year improved by 16%, or about $17 billion ($91 billion in ‘21 vs. $108 billion in ‘23).   

In unit sales for the six months, store brands were nominally even, down 0.5%, while national brands fell 3.4%. That gap may be lengthening. For the month of June alone, the most recent Circana report finds that while store brand units were off slightly at minus 0.6%, national brands dropped 5.1%.  

As a result of this performance, store brand dollar share rose to a record 18.8% for the half-year, while unit share moved up to 20.5%, also a new high. Total store brand dollar sales for the first six months of this year were $108 billion and unit sales were 26.4 billion. Totals last year were $100 billion in dollar sales and 26.5 billion in unit sales.   

“These numbers may grow as student loan repayments resume and borrowers of all ages lean further into strategies to tighten household budgets, including adding more value-friendly store brand items to their grocery lists,” said Mary Ellen Lynch, principal at Circana.  

PLMA President Peggy Davies added that the headwinds of an uncertain economy weigh heavily on consumers’ minds. Plus, many marketers are holding on to recent inflation- and supply chain-related price hikes.  

Most importantly, private label has benefitted from several years of unprecedented consumer trial. 

“Having opted for a store brand over the national brand for the first time, there’s a strong likelihood the shopper will stick with the store brand,” said Davies. “In addition, we are also seeing retailers doubling down on product innovation in food and non-food to take advantage of the flow of new store brand customers.”

Among the major departments that Circana tracks for PLMA, the beverage category experienced the largest store brand dollar sales gain over the past 52 weeks, up 19%; followed by general food and refrigerated, both ahead 16%; then frozen and general merchandise, both plus 8%. Home care (7%), beauty (5%) and health (3%) were also winners. In the two smallest departments, dollar sales in liquor were ahead by 20%, but in tobacco they fell 13%.   

Departmental unit sales followed much the same pattern. In the major sections, beverages led the pack, up 6% in store brand units, followed by refrigerated and general food, both plus 5%; then home care (up 4%), health (2%), and general merchandise (2%). Frozen came in even and beauty shed 2%. Liquor was up 22%, tobacco was down 14%. 

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