Return of restaurants to impact US grocery

The spread of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns in 2020 significantly changed the shopping behaviours of consumers globally. As vaccines roll out and restaurants add capacity, how will grocery categories in one of the biggest – and hardest hit – markets be affected?

Data and tech company Numerator has measured the impact that increased out-of-home dining has on grocery categories in the US.

The Grocery Vulnerability Index measures the likelihood that a change in quick service restaurant (QSR) spending correlates to a change in spending on a given grocery category.

Vulnerable categories

Meat, herbs and spices are among the most vulnerable categories, according to the index.

Meat is 50% 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 and spices are 46% more likely to see a decrease in sales, with more consumers eating out and reducing their at-home food preparation.

Condiments (19% more likely to see a decrease), packaged bakery (13%) and dairy (8%) are moderately vulnerable. While many dairy products remain staples in the refrigerator, both consumption and usage in recipes will likely decline.

Frozen foods and baking/cooking categories are considered “Wait and See” categories.

Frozen foods is currently 2% more likely to see a decrease, but certain categories within frozen foods are more vulnerable than others. Baking and cooking is also at 2%, but vulnerability could be reduced if baking hobbies taken up during the pandemic become lasting behaviours.

Safe categories

Candy and shelf stable meals were the two categories least likely (both -69%) 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%).

Understanding the changes

As covid restrictions begin to relax and vaccinations become widely used, retailers and brands need to understand what the changes mean for their business.

“Numerator data helps retailers and brands anticipate and predict the impact of re-emerging behaviours using advanced analytics,” Numerator CEO Eric Belcher says.