On February 19th Wal-Mart Stores told Wall Street that discount groceries played a significant role in the 8.3% jump in fourth quarter sales (ending January 31, 2008), sales which also topped $100 billion dollars! U.S. sales were $67.4 billion with an increase of 5% over the same quarter a year ago.
Another report from Wal-Mart put its grocery sales at 31% of its total volume. So, let’s do the math. $67.4 billion in U.S. sales, up 5% year over year, 31% of which consists of traditional grocery products. This translates into just over $1 billion dollars.
One more way to look at this, if you please. In one quarter, the growth in U.S. food volume…is the equiviant to the annual volume of the number 67 place holder in the Supermarket News top 75 North American Grocery Retailers for 2008. Shudder!
Obviously, this volume was taken from lots of grocers across the country. And once could make the point that, since the period covered the holidays, some of this volume might have been incremental consumpiton of food products. Still, after looking at the food business for a good many years, grocery consumption tends to track population trends very closely. Gains like these are impressive if one is a Wal-Mart stakeholder, and a bit frightening if you are anyone else.