In the worst year of the recession, grocers did OK


The year 2009 was a lousy one for Canada’s economy, including retailers. But the grocery trade managed to struggle through with decent numbers, according to a new report.

The Annual Retail Trade survey from Statistics Canada, released last week, says that annual sales at supermarkets rose 3.9% in 2009. Canada's retail sector overall recorded basically no growth for the year.

Supermarkets also managed to boost gross margins and operating profits.

In 2009, gross margins as a percentage of revenue rose slightly to 23.8% from 23.4% the previous year.

Gross profits jumped to 2.2% from 2% in 2008.

And for the first time since the 2000s began, Statistics Canada reported that food and beverage stores (which includes supermarkets, convenience stores and specialty food stores), did not lose significant food sales volume to general merchandise stores.

Since 2000, food and beverage stores have lost four percentage points in market share for food to general merchandise stores.

Food and beverage stores also increased their market share in housewares by 1.2% and health and personal care products by 0.5% during the year.

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