Grocery stores post pandemic story image

A new “Grocery Vulnerability Index” created by data and tech company Numerator suggests that grocery stores may experience sale declines in some categories.

While the index was created for the U.S. market as it begins to open up restaurants and food service, it’s an indicator of how grocery stores in Canada could be impacted post-pandemic.

The index is designed as a guide for CPG brands and grocery retailers to assess the impact that increased out-of-home dining will have on selected grocery categories.

Categories with the highest index scores are most likely to be negatively affected when consumers return to pre-COVID dining behaviours.

Key findings:

Highly vulnerable categories: meat, herbs and spices

  • Meat is 50 per cent more likely than the average grocery category to experience a decrease in grocery sales as QSR/restaurants reopen and consumers replace their home-cooked meals.
  • Herbs & Spices are 46 per cent more likely to see a decrease in sales, with more consumers eating out and reducing their at-home food preparation.

Moderately vulnerable: condiments, packaged bakery, dairy

  • Condiments are 19 per cent more likely to see a decrease, with consumption declining as consumers eat fewer meals and snacks at home.
  • Packaged bakery is 13 per cent more likely to have a negative response, as increased mobility among consumers will likely result in more baked goods purchased on-the-go from QSRs.
  • Dairy is 8 per cent more likely to see a decrease. While many dairy products remain staples in the refrigerator, both consumption and usage in recipes will likely decline.

Wait and see: frozen foods, baking & cooking

  • Frozen foods are currently categorized as a "Wait and See" category, at two per cent more likely to see a decrease, but certain categories within frozen foods are more vulnerable than others to an increase in restaurant spend.
  • Baking and cooking is currently at two per cent, but vulnerability could be reduced if baking hobbies taken up during the pandemic become lasting behaviors.

Not Vulnerable: candy, shelf-stable meals, breakfast, and more

  • Candy and shelf stable meals were the two categories least likely, both at negative 69 per cent, to see a decrease in sales as restaurants reopen.
  • Other grocery categories considered not vulnerable to increased restaurant spend are Breakfast (-56%), Canned Foods (-37%), Produce (-33%), and Alcohol (-33%).

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