Thanksgiving items are running out of stock, prices are shooting upward, and retailers are cutting down on promotions, according to a recent market analysis report from IRI, a research firm that tracks retail sales in the United States.
The continuing supply chain issues are impacting stores across the country with supermarkets and stores making adjustments with what’s available, and consumers rushing in and purchasing early on to ensure enough supply before shelves turn empty.
IRI tracks a variety of holiday-related items to gauge their availability, demand, price, and promotion for the two holidays that drive the most sales for retailers—Thanksgiving and Christmas. This measure includes the top 25 Thanksgiving-related product categories that account for 81 percent of the $2.2 billion in sales uplift typically seen in the four weeks running up to the festive season.
Based on the latest IRI report, sales uplift was 63 percent for the three-week period ending Oct. 31, compared to previous years’ average of 45 percent. The last week of October saw sales going up by 86 percent, when it’s historically around 54 percent, indicating shoppers are heading to the markets earlier than usual. The main categories of sales include food items like pastry filling, turkeys, and wet broth/stock.
Five categories including refrigerated pies, whipped toppings, frozen pie/pastry shells, liquid gravy, and bakery pies were between 5 and 11 percentage points lower in availability when compared to the past year, according to an IRI report issued last month.
The products are also getting more scarce by one and nine percent than the recent two-month average. Liquid gravy, down 11 percentage points from 2020, registered low stock availability. When compared to the last two months, liquid gravy was down nine percentage points.
Despite continued demand, meat and pies went down in stock the most, with 13 and three percentage points down, respectively, from 2020.
When IRI surveyed retailers, the company found that supermarkets were running between one and nine percentage points fewer promotions, compared to last year, for the five categories mentioned above. Meanwhile, the prices have increased about 3.6 percent, on average, in the categories with frozen pie/pastry shells going up by six percent.
Other market analysis reveals that high and mid-income shoppers tend to shop ahead of time and stock up, compared to low-income shoppers who make purchases closer to Thanksgiving. However, all income groups stock up on pies, baking products, and beverages during the holiday season.
IRI reports indicate that shoppers may need to find substitute products like “fresh for frozen desserts,” as retailers manage their depleting inventories.