Report finds pandemic-related shifts in consumer habits drove sales growth and technology investments while exacerbating labor shortage and supply chain issues

ARLINGTON, VA — Eighteen months into the COVID-19 global pandemic, FMI, TheSPEAKS 2021 Final Cover Food Industry Association today released its annual comprehensive research report, The Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2021, which found that 95% of food retailers with e-commerce options saw an increase in online sales in 2020 as the result of pandemic-related changes in consumer shopping behaviors.

Yet even while consumer demand for groceries increased by 50% last year, resulting in an unprecedented 15.8% growth in same-store sales, 80% of retailers surveyed said difficulties attracting and retaining employees is having a negative impact on their businesses. Furthermore, ongoing global supply chain issues driven by the pandemic continue to persist for food retailers in 2021, with 42% saying supply chain disruptions continue to hurt their businesses.

“The pandemic transformed almost every aspect of the food retail industry – from the way consumers shop for groceries and consume their meals to how food is grown, produced and transported to supermarket shelves, to our ability to staff our stores and serve our communities,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI. “Throughout the past year and a half, the food retail industry has been adapting to meet the shifting needs of the communities they serve. This year’s Speaks report outlines the resilience and transformation of the food retail industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic and examines the proactive strategies and investments retailers have made to adapt to the changing food retail landscape.”

The Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2021 survey represents more than 38,000 food retail stores and includes 2020 operational and financial benchmarks as well as insights into strategic and tactical decisions. For more information and to download the report, visit

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