Store Brands Survived a Rollercoaster Ride in the Past Year

Overall, store brand dollar sales in 2021 grew 1 percent to a record $199B in all U.S. retail channels.
rollercoaster sales

NATIONAL REPORT — Last year was not smooth sailing for store brands, with sales up and down throughout the year. However, 2021 finished strong, averaging about a 5-percent dollar volume increase over the last five months compared to the same period in 2020, according to the PLMA 2022 Private Label Report. 

Store brand sales also enjoyed strong results to start the new year, growing 4.2 percent in dollar volume across all U.S. retail channels in January 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. This increase was about equal to the 4.4 percent growth of national brands over the same timeframe, according to IRI data provided to PLMA. 

Looking at all of 2021, store brand dollar sales grew 1 percent to a record $199 billion in all U.S. retail channels. Private brand dollar share last year was 17.7 percent, while unit share came in at 19.6 percent. Both represent increases over a three-year period. 

The 2021 performance of store brands represents a return to the consistent, single-digit growth that existed in pre-pandemic years. "The main takeaway is that retailer brands are a vibrant industry and an important piece of the U.S. grocery business, especially in difficult economic times," said PLMA President Peggy Davies.   

Retailer brands jumped 12 percent in dollar sales in 2020 amid the shutdown of foodservice, a greater emphasis on cooking at home, and the boom in online grocery shopping. That exceeded the gain of national brands, which were up 10 percent in 2020.   

In the eight largest departments tracked by IRI, store brands grew in six last year. In the largest category, refrigerated foods, store brands increased by 0.7 percent, followed by general merchandise (up 1.7 percent), health care products (up 0.2 percent), frozen (up 0.8 percent), produce (up 11.4 percent), and beverages (up 2.7 percent).  

New York-based Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1979 to promote the store brands industry.