YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Independent grocers have come out ahead during the pandemic with record sales and customers returning to local stores.
According to the National Grocers Association, retail grocery profits were up across the industry in the quarter ending March 2021, but a recent survey found that independent grocers got the extra bonus of getting customers out of the big box stores and into local ones.
The 2021 edition of the Independent Grocers Financial Survey shows that sales increased an average of 17%, boosted by an increase in transaction size to an average of $31 and a big upswing in online orders. While inflation was high, sales still gained 13.5% once adjusted for the price increases.
Industry experts said independent grocers found innovative ways to serve their local communities and that brought customers back into their stores.
Expenses rose when it came to extra cleaning efforts, wages, benefits and supplies, but sales gains accelerated faster.
Hiring and retention continue to be a challenge for independent grocers with 71% reporting that it is difficult.
The biggest sales increases were in dry groceries, dairy, alcohol, health and beauty aids and general merchandise.
The top 25th percentile of independent grocers when regarding net profits before taxes, grew net profits before taxes by 9.8% — twice the total average.