Last year, people were stockpiling food and essentials at stores and ordering a lot more groceries online. That was great news for America’s biggest grocery chains.
Now companies say the pandemic-time boom is over. Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the United States, said it expects comparable sales, or sales at stores open for at least one year, to decline by three to five percent this year. Sales increased 14 percent in 2020.
There is now “quite a challenging setup for grocers,” Rupesh Parikh, analyst at Oppenheimer, said in a note to clients.
The sales downturn dovetails with the widespread arrival of various vaccines, which makes it possible for consumers to shift back to eating more meals at restaurants and outside of their homes.
Consumers may find more items on sale in stores, however. Promotions may be most notable among big consumer brands, which are working to fend off cheaper store brands.