IRI uses point-of-sales data and e-commerce transactions to track weekly store stock rates. Retailers typically like to have around a 95% in-stock rate overall, noted Krishnakumar Davey, president of IRI’s strategic analytics practice. This year, stores aren’t anywhere close to that.
A number of factors are contributing to Thanksgiving staples disappearing from store shelves — including supply chain ruptures and an unexpected spike in demand.
But if you haven’t done your shopping yet, don’t panic: You won’t have to cancel Thanksgiving. But you may spend more than you’d like and have to make some substitutions.
Supply chains woes and early shoppers
Ocean Spray, a farmer co-operative that makes cranberry sauce and sells bagged cranberries, said that “consumers may experience some availability issues at times on a variety of cranberry products,” because of supply chain issues. The co-op noted that it doesn’t expect “significant impacts” on the availability of its products.
Kleinfelter noted that “the production of our chocolate chips (milk, dark and semi-sweet) is strong and tracking with consumer demand. ”
Cream cheese is another item that has been harder to find ahead of the holiday.
One thing you should be able to find without a problem: Stuffing. IRI data shows that in-stock rates for stuffing mixes were at 92% in the first week of November, up from 90% in the same period last year.
‘A Thanksgiving of alternatives’
So what happens if, or when, you can’t find the food you want, or haven’t started your shopping yet? Don’t stress too much — you’ll probably be able to find what you need.
“If you’re particular about some things, then you may or may not find them on your shelf,” Davey said. “That’s the key takeaway.” Davey said he doesn’t expect out of stocks to get worse as we get closer to the holiday.
Some constraints have already eased, according to IRI data. In-stock rates for frozen, fixed-weight turkeys grew to 64% in the first week of November, up significantly from 40% in the last week of October.
Butterball has noticed that “whole turkey sales have been early and brisk, which potentially accounts for the reported out-of-stocks,” said Christa Leupen, a company spokesperson. “We can affirm that there will be Butterball turkeys available in stores this season,” she said.
Stew Leonard Jr, CEO of the small grocery chain Stew Leonard’s, said that he’s having trouble stocking some branded products. But he’s been able to make substitutions so that shelves aren’t empty.
“I would say this is a Thanksgiving of alternatives,” he said. “I can’t guarantee our customers that they will have every single item they want,” he added. “But I can guarantee that they will have an alternative to what they want.”