Independent grocers holding their own at top and bottom lines

NGA/FMS Independent Grocers Financial Survey gauges performance following pandemic boom


Russell Redman, Supermarket News 

Aug 01, 2022


Despite a dip from the COVID-fueled boom in 2020, independent supermarkets maintained elevated sales and profits in 2021 versus the pre-pandemic period, according to the 2022 Independent Grocers Financial Survey, a joint study by the National Grocers Association (NGA) and FMS Solutions.


Fifty-eight percent of independent grocers fell short of matching their 2020 same-store sales records, though many came close, as inflation provided a 6.5% lift in 2021, NGA said. Comparable-store sales declined 1.7% for the sector last year, following gains of 13.5% in 2020 — driven by consumer stockpiling after the onset of COVID-19 — and 2.5% in 2019.


“Supply chain challenges kept independent retailers on their toes with historically low order fill rates averaging 74.6%,” Robert Graybill, president and CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based FMS Solutions, said in a statement. “This was compounded by labor shortages, a complex regulatory environment and going up against the biggest year in grocery retailing. In the tough marketplace, independents focused on implementing loyalty programs to optimize trips and spending, as reliance on the paper circular is dwindling.”


Ongoing strength in food-at-home dollar sales kept center-store sales strong in 2021, as those product categories accounted for almost 61% of independents’ business, the study found. NGA said shoppers continued to embrace home cooking essentials while searching for value. Varying levels of inflation and “rampant out-of-stocks” also shaped departmental contributions to the top line, the research showed...


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