Data shows five Thanksgiving grocery categories impacted by shortages

Data firm IRI released a new report that shed light on the availability of five Thanksgiving food categories, including availability and expected prices.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
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IRI, a global data provider for retail companies, today released new data on availability of five Thanksgiving-related grocery categories across stores nationally. The data shows high out-of-stock rates for five Thanksgiving-related categories due to supply chain issues, meaning shoppers can expect lower levels of holiday promotion this year.

“As the holiday season approaches and widespread supply chain challenges continue to impact industries across the economy, IRI is tracking a basket of items for their availability, demand, price and promotion for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said Krishnakumar Davey, president of IRI client engagement and strategic analytics. “Halloween season is shaping up nicely with the category growing in double digits, and we are recording significant out-of-stock rates on several Thanksgiving-related grocery categories at this time. IRI’s real-time data provides critical insights for retailers and manufacturers managing an increasingly complex and volatile supply chain environment, particularly ahead of high-demand events.”

Last month, Davey sat down with Store Brands to discuss rising prices and inflation, and how private label brands could stand to benefit. Key Thanksgiving-related findings for the week ending Oct. 19 from IRI including the following:

  • Five Thanksgiving-related categories have elevated and worsening out-of-stock rates. Whipped toppings, liquid gravy, frozen pie/pastry shells, refrigerated pies and bakery pies categories were between 5 and 11 percentage points lower this week than the same time last year, and between 1% and 9% lower than the recent two-month average. Liquid gravy had the lowest in-stock rates this week, down 11 percentage points from the year-ago period and 9 percentage points compared to the last two-months average availability.
  • Promotional and pricing activity already reflects shortages. As a result of lower supply, retailers are running between 1 and 9 percentage points fewer promotions in those five categories compared to last year. On average, prices in these five categories have risen about 3.6% over this time last year, with frozen pie/pastry shells showing the highest pricing increase of 6% over the year-ago period.
  • Shoppers should expect lower levels of promotion and an increased need for substitutions. While some of these categories typically see high levels of promotion as the holidays approach, retailers will have less incentive to promote this year given the high demand and low in-stock rates. As a result of availability, lesser anticipated promotional levels and continuing inflation, shoppers may need to substitute items across key Thanksgiving categories or try to find their favorite products at other stores.
  • Early indications of supply chain risk to other Thanksgiving-related categories. Finally, as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and demand begins to spike, data foreshadows availability risk for additional Thanksgiving-related items, including cranberries and stuffing.

The factors have already started to impact private brand sales.

"In liquid gravy, for example, private brand sales compared to a year ago are up vs. a decline from year-ago of national brand sales," said Joan Driggs, VP of content and thought leadership for IRI. "The story is fuzzier in refrigerated pies, where both national brand and private label have seen sales increase vs year ago, but sales of national brands greatly outpace those of private brands.For aerosol whipped toppings, we see sales declines vs. year ago for both national brand and private brand, but the % change of national brands is greater than that of private brand. These are just examples, but because of supply chain shortages across the board, we don’t have a level playing field on whether a shopper would opt for a national brand or a private brand. For holiday shopping, consumers are more likely to take what they can get."