Retail sales have declined 1.1% in November 2020 vs. October 2020, per CNN, while continuing to be up over year ago (YAGO) by 4.1%. These declines, explained by the soft economy, high unemployment rates, and absence of a government stimulus, reflected weaker sales than expected.
Per National Retail Solutions, which operates the nation’s largest point-of-sale network for inner-city independent merchants, the inner-city c-stores, small grocery and bodegas suffered a greater month-over-month loss of 6%, however, is still trending above YAGO by an impressive 17%.
November vs. October 2019 saw a dollar sales decline of 1.7%, revealing that the 2020 declines were meaningfully worse than 2019 and not explained by seasonality.
This could imply that the urban shoppers are more severely impacted by the economic stressors caused by the pandemic, while at the same time they continue to do more of their shopping close to home than they did last year. The 17% increase vs YAGO is well above the gains reported by Rahul Sharma (Retail Guru) for grocery (+11%) and the inverse of what he has reported for overall convenience (-17%). This continues to reinforce the importance of the local, independent merchant in satisfying the shopping needs of inner-city communities.
While overall November sales are down vs. prior month, categories enjoying sales growth in November vs. October included:
- Baking supplies/staples/spices/sugar
- Upper Respiratory OTC Medicines
- Packaged coffee and tea
- Fruits and vegetables
Most all categories continue to experience year over year growth, with tobacco, beer/flavored malt beverage/cider, and spirits responsible for over 75% of the net November 2020 vs. November 2019 dollar growth.
Other categories enjoying significant year over year growth include wine, non-alcoholic beverages, outdoor recreational, household cleaners and supplies, and meat/seafood.
Suzy Silliman is the Sr. Vice President, Data Strategy and Sales for National Retail Solutions.