Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

COVID-19 Updates Features
StatsCan: Grocery sales continued upward trend after exceptional March surge

Following the March spike, grocery store receipts continued to rise over the next three weeks, with year-over-year sales rising 19 per cent in the week ending April 11.


June 23, 2020
By Statistics Canada

In the weeks since the release of the Statistics Canada study Canadian Consumers Prepare for COVID-19, which analyzed trends in consumer demand and sales up to the week ending March 14, 2020, Canadians have been adapting to a new normal.

With many stores and service providers closed or operating with reduced hours, classrooms moved online, a newly defined workforce made up of essential workers and those able to work from home, and millions of Canadians experiencing lost hours of work or layoffs as a result of the pandemic life at home has taken on a new definition.

Statistics Canada’s May 11 report reveals the way Canadians are making purchases at grocery stores can provide some insight into the way they are sustaining themselves and their families, and spending their time at home.

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Grocery sales continue upward trend after exceptional March surge

Whether Canadians were simply restocking depleted pantries, preparing to shop less frequently and reduce their exposure to COVID-19, or truly panic buying, grocery store sales surged in March 2020, according to Statistics Canada’s report.

By the week ending March 21, nearly all provinces and territories had declared states of emergency due to COVID-19, and transborder restrictions and international travel bans were in effect. Canadian consumers continued to react and prepare in response to reduced access to businesses, goods and services, and increasing restrictions on their movement. Retail grocery sales that week rose 40 per cent higher compared with the same week last year.

Retail grocery sales that week rose 40 per cent higher compared with the same week last year.

Following the March spike, grocery store receipts continued to rise, on a historical basis, over the next three weeks, with year-over-year sales rising 19 per cent in the week ending April 11.

As Canadian consumers adapt to staying at home, new behaviours and shopping habits are evolving to reflect the new reality.

Purchases at grocery stores spiked during the first three weeks of March, but stabilized by the end of the month as no shortages were anticipated. Seasonal sales of products related to Easter celebrations slowed in 2020 compared with 2019, and sales of certain goods including health and personal care items increased.

The report also detailed spending by Canadians on health and personal care items, household cleaning items, shelf-stable goods, baking products, alcohol, beauty supplies and Easter-related products. Read the full report A Look at Canadian Grocery Sales up to April 11.