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    Retailers May Grapple With Thanksgiving Supply Shortage

    22 Oct 2021

    Five Thanksgiving-related categories have elevated and worsening out-of-stock rates, according to IRI which is tracking the availability, demand, price, and promotion of a basket of items for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

    “Halloween season is shaping up nicely with the category growing in double digits, and we are recording significant out-of-stock rates on several Thanksgiving-related grocery categories at this time,” said Dr. Krishnakumar S. Davey, president of IRI Client Engagement, in a statement. “By tracking availability of critical holiday-related products and categories, IRI is enabling our retailer and manufacturing clients to make better decisions on merchandising, promotional activity, and other variables to drive their growth and profitability, and deliver for shoppers.”

    Product availability of whipped toppings, liquid gravy, frozen pie/pastry shells, refrigerated pies, and bakery pies categories was between 5 and 11 percentage points lower this week than the same time last year, and between 1 percent and 9 percent lower than the recent two-month average. Among these challenged categories, liquid gravy had the lowest in-stock rates this week, down 11 percentage points from the year-ago period and 9 percentage points compared to the last two-months average availability.

    Among the other Thanksgiving-related findings:

    Promotional and pricing activity already reflect shortages. As a result of lower supply, retailers are running between 1 and 9 percentage points fewer promotions in these five categories compared to last year. On average, prices in these five categories have risen about 3.6 percent over this time last year, with frozen pie/pastry shells showing the highest pricing increase of 6 percent over the year-ago period.

    Shoppers should expect lower levels of promotion and an increased need for substitutions. While some of these categories typically see high levels of promotion as the holidays approach, retailers will have less incentive to promote this year given the high demand and low in-stock rates. As a result of availability, lesser anticipated promotional levels and continuing inflation, shoppers may need to substitute items across key Thanksgiving categories (e.g., substituting fresh for frozen desserts) or try to find their favorite products at other stores.

    Early indications of supply chain risk to other Thanksgiving-related categories. As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and demand begins to spike, data foreshadows availability risk for additional Thanksgiving-related items, including cranberries and stuffing.