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Last summer, the publisher of PLBuyer, Todd Tamcsin, and I were kicking around ideas for ways we could push the industry forward. We knew we were the home for the best insights and news in private label, but we thought there might be something more we could do.
It was the early berth of the PLBuyer Index shown here, a monthly snapshot on the overall private label industries and its main categories.
The first PLBuyer Index, unveiled at the PLB360 Conference on June 12, showed private label sales dipped in the four weeks ending May 19 from a year earlier, but continued growth since the start of 2013.
The PLBuyer Index was 97.77 for the period, with private label’s share of revenue falling 0.22 percent from a year earlier.
The index – compiled from data gathered from total U.S. multi-outlet supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retailers – measures the health of the private label industry each month. Index numbers above 100 show growth in private label revenue share year-over-year, while those below 100 show declines.
For the 4-week period ending May 19, Frozen had the highest index number at 121.49, followed by HBC at 113.21 and Non-Edible at 113.20. Bringing up the rear were Dairy at 79.79, General Merchandise at 84.92, and Edible at 93.45.
The gains in Frozen were among the most significant of the bunch. Not only did private label’s share of revenue grow from a year earlier, but it also grew unit share to 19.59 percent of the overall category. As noteworthy was the price differential to national brands.
The average price of private label products for the period was 19.27 percent lower than national brands. But for the Frozen category, private label was priced just 1.15 percent lower than national brands, a 115 basis point improvement from a year earlier, and a sign that retailers were able to keep prices competitive with national brands, thus improving profit margins.
On the flip side was General Merchandise, where pricing improved over the period, gaining 117 basis points to a 19.77 percent discount to national brands. But both revenue share and unit share fell over that period, meaning retailers worked to raise prices over the period, but saw sales dip as a result.
Although sales have fallen compared with last year, private label’s share of revenue has continued a steady climb. Revenue share has grown nearly 0.6 percent since the start of the year, even as retailers have been able to raise prices on private label items. Private label prices are a 18.8 percent discount to national brands, an improvement of 38 basis points since Jan. 1.
The next PLBuyer Index will be released online July 3, with an in-depth look in the August issue.