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October 21, 2020

Lunchmeat by a Landslide: Prepackaged Sales Bursting During Pandemic

These days, shoppers want to keep their trips to the grocery store as short as possible. With this being the new norm, one section of the store has suffered during the pandemic, the deli department. Much of that decline can be attributed to the open, hands-on environments and wait times at those refrigerated counters that have led people to skip this and opt or prepackaged meats. Fortunately, prepackaged meats have been a saving grace for grocers. With this uptick, grocers are turning to Retail Space Solutions for help on keeping this section as fresh and tidy as possible.

There’s something comforting about a deli lunchmeat sandwich. After all, a sandwich equipped with the palate-pleasing combination of meats, cheeses, chopped veggies and condiments was what a packed lunch was built around.

Perhaps it was nostalgia, along with the convenience of fresh-cut deli meats and cheeses, that had sparked a surge in sales leading up to the first quarter of 2020. But after years of growing revenues, the coronavirus pandemic has taken fresh deli operations and flipped them upside-down. According to data collected by 210 Analytics and IRI, deli departments have experienced a 7% decrease in sales compared to this time last year.

Much of that decline can be attributed to the open, hands-on environments and wait times at those refrigerated counters that have led people to skip the deli department and opt for prepackaged meats and cheeses. Fortunately for grocery stores, while deli sales have slipped, packaged lunch meats have been a saving grace.

Since the pandemic took hold of the country in March packaged lunch meat sales have increased by more than 11%, according to 210 Analytics and IRI. This sudden jump in lunch meat sales can most likely be attributed to product convenience, shortened wait times that reduce exposures to other shoppers and overall lower product costs.

Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator with the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association, told Meat+Poultry that most retailers are relying on pre-packaged sales to replace declining cold and hot food bar revenue. He notes that while grab-and-go prepackaged meats have long been a consumer favorite, “pre-packaged does not quite have the same opportunity to bring back the full assortment for operators or the same mix and match flexibility for consumers.”

Freshness, variety and especially shopping efficiency are key in the success of the prepackaged section. That places a premium on stock rotation and shelf conditioning.

“Deli departments have always been a staple of the grocery shopping experience,” says Joe Crum, Director of Marketing and eCommerce for Retail Space Solutions. “But with consumers altering the way they shop to keep their trips as short as possible, delis are being left behind. That’s why packaged lunch meats have never been more relied upon than they are now.”

One solution grocery retailers have been turning to is SpaceGrid® II pusher display systems from Retail Space Solutions. These systems are designed to provide an environment safe for both shoppers and products alike by keeping packages front-faced and organized all day long.

As far as prepackaged meats is concerned, perhaps the most attractive benefits to grocers is the pull-out trays, which make product rotation fast and virtually effortless. Simply release the lock, pull the tray forward and load fresh stock from the back.

The SpaceGrid II pusher system is built with supreme freshness and simplicity in mind. It’s designed to keep cool air moving freely from the back of the refrigerated area forward through product trays, which extends product shelf life. Add in adjustable side walls for a perfect product fit.

“A positive experience lies in the details,” says Crum. “Shoppers may not acknowledge how easy it is pulling products from a pusher system like SpaceGrid II or how fresh it keeps things like lunch meats, but at the end of the day, shoppers always remember when they have a great shopping experience.”

To learn more about SpaceGrid II and the complete line of pusher display systems available from Retail Space Solutions, visit or call 800-279-5291.