How Will Thanksgiving Play Out for Food Retailers?

How Will Thanksgiving Play Out for Food Retailers?
The Fresh Market will offer five options of complete, ready-to-heat holiday meals — products designed to meet pandemic demand.

Nearly half of U.S. consumers, or 47.6%, plan to bypass their traditional Thanksgiving celebrations this year, according to Nielsen — data that reflects not only the challenges of this pandemic year, but opportunities for food retailers.

Nielsen also found that 70% of those consumers are planning a Thanksgiving gathering with fewer than six people. That compares to 48% last year. Indeed, food retailers such as FreshDirect are gearing up to meet changing consumer needs amid a pandemic-affected holiday season.

Nielsen said that the majority of meat categories are seeing strong growth in this year’s run up to the Thanksgiving holiday — but that doesn’t mean turkey is coming out on top.

For the four-week period ending Nov. 7 whole turkey’s 12.5% year-over-year sales growth is less than that of beef steaks (up 26.9%), meat alternatives (up 63%) and Cornish hens (up 21.4%), though greater than that of chicken (down 11.6%) and ham (down 1.4%).

As well in the month of October, U.S. consumers paid 3.7% more than they did last year for popular seasonal items correlated with Thanksgiving.

“Americans may be polarized on how they’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving this year, but what will remain consistent is their strong preference for products promoting health and hygiene,” said Nikhil Sharma, Nielsen’s VP of North America Consumer Analytics. “With 75% of respondents from Nielsen’s Summer Shopper Survey placing health concerns as a top priority and 49% taking more measures to maintain health, retailers need to keep these common concerns in mind when considering their assortments as consumers gear up to celebrate the holidays and accelerate these behaviors even further.”

Consumers this year have access to lower-priced Thanksgiving items from multiple food retailers, along with creative promotions — with some grocers, such as Aldi, going a step further. Aldi is giving every employee two $30 gift cards, each covering the cost of a Thanksgiving meal from its stores. Associates can use the gift cards on themselves or pass one or both along to a needy person. With about 25,000 employees, this represents an investment of approximately $1.5 million. Meanwhile, Food Lion is among the food retailers stepping up holiday charity efforts as the pandemic surges.

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