According to data from Nielsen, store brands posted double-digit sales increases across U.S. supermarkets, discounters, and drug stores as shoppers stocked up on products during the first stages of the coronavirus pandemic. First-quarter dollar sales of private label products across all U.S. retail outlets compared with the year before climbed nearly 15% during the first quarter, up $4.9 billion. Unit volume increased by nearly 13%, representing a gain of around 1.5 billion products sold. Total dollar sales of store brands in the first quarter were $38.4 billion, and units were 13.2 billion.

During the quarter, private label brands gained about one third more in both dollar and unit sales than national brands, according to data provided to the Private Label Manufacturers Association by Nielsen. In all U.S. retail outlets, store brands grew 14.6% in dollar volume and 12.8% in unit volume, compared with gains of 11.5% in dollars and 9.2% in units for national brands.

Among the retail channels, the strongest gains for store brands occurred in mass, which consists of mass merchandisers, club stores, and dollar stores. Store brands gained 16.6% in dollar sales and 16.5% in unit sales compared with the same quarter in 2019. That expansion surpassed national brands, which advanced 10.1% in dollars and 7.3% in units. As a result, store brands’ market shares increased by 1.2 points in dollars to 21.7%, and 1.5 points in units to 25.8%, as compared with the same quarter one year ago.

In supermarkets, store brands also increased, up 12.7% in dollar volume and 9.7% in unit volume. National brands did slightly better, up 15% in dollars and up 11.4% in units. Store brands’ market shares were unchanged for the quarter, at 18% of dollars and 22.3% of units.

In drug stores, where sales of all brands have lagged the past few years, store brands did quite well. Dollar sales were up 13% and unit sales were ahead 12.4%, both substantially better than national brands, which were up 7% and 1%, respectively. When compared to the first quarter of 2019, store brands’ share increased about one full point to 17% of dollars and 15.9% of units.

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