CPG and Retail Insights to Manage the Impact of COVID-19

The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on business across the globe, including CPG and retail. IRI is closely tracking developments in our industry using our data sources (point-of-sale, loyalty, panel, e-commerce and social media) to help our clients understand the resulting changes in consumer and shopper behavior across categories, brands, channels and retailers in the areas affected by the virus. Our goal is to help companies successfully manage real-time supply/demand chain issues and determine how to best handle promotions, out-of-stocks, pricing and assortment to meet the changing needs of consumers.

This page is updated regularly with the latest data and insights from IRI. If you have specific questions related to your business, please reach out to your IRI representative or contact IRI@IRIworldwide.com.


Reports brought to you by IRI in partnership with BCG.


April 2, 2020

March 26, 2020

March 19, 2020


IRI is regularly publishing reports to provide an overview on what's happening across key markets and guidance for CPG manufacturers and retailers to support consumers during the crises.

April 3, 2020

March 25, 2020

March 12, 2020

March 6, 2020


IRI’s Media Center of Excellence has developed a guide on advertising during a pandemic. It includes an overview of current media buying and consumption trends, overall and category-specific recommendations and how IRI can help advertisers navigate new challenges.

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Lessons From Italy: How Covid-19 Might Continue to Affect the Retail Landscape During Lockdown

Hear insights into how the Italian market and shoppers have responded to COVID-19, including guidance for clients across other markets for the weeks and months to come.

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Consumers Face the Reality of COVID-19

Get a real-time look at what’s happening across the industry and how CPG manufacturers and retailers can best support consumers during this time.

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Power Better and Faster Supply Chain Decisions

Find out the latest CPG sales and inventory trends, what this means for the industry and how supply chain data can help manufacturers be more effective.

Watch Replay


COVID-19’s Impact on CPG Retail (March 24, 2020)

Hear IRI’s KK Davey, President, Strategic Analytics, discuss this fast-moving pandemic including what we can learn from other hard-hit areas, lessons from past recessions, shifting shopper behaviors and how retailers are responding.

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Observations and Implications


For the first time ever, total U.S. multi-outlet sales topped $24.8 billion in a single week. Across the aisles, sales reached an unprecedented high in the week ending 3/15/2020, 62% higher than the same week the prior year. Center-of-store food and beverage driving 40% of all sales, although fresh foods including meat, produce and baked goods were also in-demand for at-home meal solutions. Learn More


For the week ending 3/15/2020, retail (MULO) had its biggest non-edibles sales growth week compared to the last few years – it was 37.5x the average weekly sales growth. Consumers spent $2.7+ billion more dollars than they did last year on total non-edibles, which includes the following departments: beauty, general merchandise, health, home care and tobacco. Learn More


Center of Store
The food and beverage items that continue to be popular are shelf-stable and frozen food items, sports drinks and water. Categories such as rice, macaroni and cheese, pasta, canned vegetables and canned fruit are all driving significant growth as consumers purchase items that can apply to multi-serve occasions.

With consumers focused on stocking up, perimeter departments grew 45% (week of 3/15/2020) versus the same week in 2019. Refrigerated pre-packaged meals were also in favor versus in-store food service, and bread, rolls and morning sweet goods helped shoppers looking to replace morning and lunch routines with in-home options. Fresh foods will be critical at all store types as shoppers round out their increased at-home meal needs with perishables.


Fresh meat sales are quickly accelerating and resulting in empty or picked over meat cases. Whether beef, turkey, chicken or pork, grinds are gaining very quickly as well as chicken breasts, recipe-ready wings and marinated pork loin as versatile and easy-to-prepare items.

Consumers are seeking products that bring comfort and joy, and products that are increasing in sales include salty snacks, chocolate, ice cream and frozen novelties. Half of the American food dollar previously was spent outside the home, so most of that is now shifting to food consumed in-home. Consumers will need help to satisfy their continuous desire for new experiences and tastes.


Household Cleaners
Consumers are purchasing cleaners that are not necessarily seen as sustainable, as they look to products they perceive as stronger in tackling the virus on surfaces.

Work-from-home and restricted socializing are likely to result in consumers using fewer cosmetics and haircare products.


There will continue to be a greater shift to online purchasing of CPG products with click and collect at grocery, club, mass merchandisers and more, as more cities implement “stay at home” orders.

With several economies tightening around the world, consumers will increasingly look for the value proposition, zeroing in on lower-priced brands and/or private label products.


There will be dips in sales of some of the most overstocked items. Retailers should have a good handle on their supply chain to know where the next hot spot will be and shift products from less densely populated areas (that have a lower risk of major outbreaks) to the next likely “yellow zone.”

The number of product choices for consumers may be limited going forward as manufacturers focus on producing top stock-keeping units to meet consumer demand.


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