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Grocery Sales Trump Restaurants As Landscape Changes

Americans are not spending more dining out than for groceries, contrary to a report by Bloomberg. They are, however, not always doing so at their local supermarket. The 87-year old Food Institute has been tracking retail sales of food for decades and restaurant and bar sales in March did outpace sales at grocery stores by about $2.54 billion. However, consumers spent about $25 billion more for groceries at other retail venues selling food and consumable products that were not included in the numbers used in the Bloomberg article.

Breaking it down, The Food Institute estimates $17 billion more was spent for groceries at warehouse clubs and supercenters, another $6 billion at other food retailers like butchers, bakers and specialty food stores, approximately $1.5 billion at drug stores, and nearly half a billion online.  

Adding the above into the mix puts actual grocery sales at around $75 billion in March – 42% more than eating and drinking place sales. And that doesn’t even include groceries sold at mass merchandisers like Walmart and Target’s traditional locations.

In 2014, 30% of shoppers said their primary store for food shopping was not a grocery store, but rather a supercenter, a warehouse club or a discount store reported FMI. And that is exactly what is being reflected in the data but unfortunately it makes it more difficult to track the food retailing industry as a whole.

How would you like to see us present the data as a result of this evolution? What would be the most helpful to you in running your business?