Sales Review: Deli

Prepared foods is the biggest dollar generator within the deli, and prepared chicken remains the top-selling item in the category.
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The deli department, which accounts for 17 percent of total fresh dollar sales, continues to drive fresh growth at retail, increasing dollar and volume sales during the latest 52 weeks ended Oct. 29, up 3.9 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively. During this time, each area of the deli department (deli prepared foods, deli cheese, deli meat, deli beverages and ‘other,’ which maintains miscellaneous deli products) increased dollar sales and volume sales, with the exception of deli meat, which maintained sales compared to the previous year.

Prepared foods account for 59.1 percent of total deli department sales and is the driving force of deli department growth. During the tracked period, prepared foods increased average dollar and volume sales 5.3 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively. During this time, each of the 15 categories increased dollar sales compared to the previous year, with the highest increases occurring in sushi (up 17.3 percent) soups (up 11.2 percent) and desserts (up 12.4 percent). Prepared chicken remained the top-selling prepared category at 27.1 percent of sales and posting $4,248 per store per week, followed by salads ($2,546 per store per week), and entrées ($1,709 per store per week). 

Although prepared foods is often featured as the star of the department, meat and cheese still have important roles to play in overall department health. Meat, which accounts for 20.1 percent of deli sales, maintained dollar sales compared to the previous year, up 0.4 percent to $5,323 per store per week while average volume sales increased just 0.4 percent. During the latest 52 weeks, bulk meat increased average dollar sales 0.8 percent, while pre-sliced meat decreased 3.8 percent, and specialty meat (which accounts for just four percent of deli meat sales) increased 5.8 percent. 

Cheese accounted for 16.7 percent of deli sales during the tracked period and posted sales of $4,430, up 2.3 percent. Specialty cheese accounts for 65.3 percent of deli cheese sales and increased average dollar sales 3.8 percent, followed by service and pre-sliced, which increased average dollar sales 0.1 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. 

Deli beverages, which accounts for 3.9 percent of department sales, posted sales gains of 8.2 percent thanks to significant sales increases in deli coffee (up 7.3 percent) “other” beverages (up 6.3 percent) and deli tea (up 17.7 percent).     







This sales review is provided by Nielsen Perishables Group. Based in Chicago, Nielsen Perishables Group specializes in retail measurement, analytics, marketing communications, category development, promotional best practices and shopper insights. 

For more information, contact Nielsen Perishables Group:  Haley Hastings, (773) 929-7013; email:


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