Documentation

The Weekly Retail Food Sales data are obtained from Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) and are based on the IRI InfoScan proprietary data product. InfoScan data are retailer point-of-sale records of consumer food purchases collected from retail food stores. Retailers collect weekly revenues and quantities of each UPC (Universal Product Code) sold by store; the dataset includes detailed information for both packaged food and random weight fresh food. See Using Scanner Data for more information on InfoScan.

The Weekly Retail Food Sales data are aggregated to food group levels and aggregated to be representative at the national and State levels. ERS receives the data with a 2-week lag from the collection date and updates two publicly available files: “Weekly Retail Food Sales by Product Category and State” and “Weekly Retail Food Sales by Product Sub-category. Weekly Retail Food Sales Data are nationally representative; for more information on projection methodology see Sample Based Estimates by IRI.

Note that the series is subject to revision based on periodic adjustments in methodology underlying the proprietary data from IRI.

The Weekly Retail Food Sales data differ from the historical retail scanner data ERS also acquired from IRI for 2008-2018. The historical scanner data provide store-level and retail marketing area level weekly sales data for individual products disaggregated to UPC codes.

Aggregation of food items

Food items are aggregated to product subcategories and categories using the classification scheme developed for the Quarterly Food-at-Home Price Database (see Technical Bulletin 1926, Methodology Behind the Quarterly Food-at-Home Price Database). The classification scheme distinguishes food categories by their role in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Categories and subcategories include:

Alcohol
Beverages
   Water
   Carbonated non-alcoholic
   Fruit drinks and non-carbonated sugary
   Other
Commercially prepared foods
   Not sweet canned (soups, sauces, etc.)
   Not sweet frozen (pizzas, french fries, fish sticks, and entrees)
   Not sweet packaged/meals and sides
   Not sweet packaged/snacks
   Not sweet ready-to-eat (hot and cold deli items)
   Sweet frozen (ice cream, frozen desserts)
   Sweet mixes (pancake, muffin, and cake mixes)
   Sweet packaged (cookies, candy bars, granola bars, and other sweet bars)
   Sweet ready-to-eat (bakery items)
Dairy
   Cheese
   Low-fat milk
   Regular-fat milk
   Yogurt and other
Fats and oils
   Oils
   Solids
Fruit
   Fruit juice
   Whole canned
   Whole fresh/frozen
Grains
   Packaged (bread, rolls, pita, tortilla, rice, pasta, cereal)
   Flour and mixes
   Frozen/ready to cook
   Other
Meats, eggs, and nuts (protein foods)
   Poultry fresh/frozen
   Regular meat canned
   Regular meat fresh/frozen
   Eggs
   Fish canned
   Fish fresh/frozen
   Low-fat meat fresh/frozen
   Nuts and seeds processed/nut butters
   Nuts and seeds raw
   Other
Sugar and sweeteners
Vegetables
   Dark green canned (e.g., collard greens, spinach)
   Dark green fresh/frozen (e.g., collard greens, broccoli, kale, spinach)
   Legumes canned (e.g., black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils)
   Legumes fresh/frozen (e.g., black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils)
   Orange canned (e.g., carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin)
   Orange fresh/frozen (e.g., carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, acorn squash)
   Starchy canned (e.g., potatoes, peas, corn)
   Starchy fresh/frozen (e.g., potatoes, peas, corn)
   Other-nutrient-dense canned (e.g., tomatoes)
   Other-nutrient-dense fresh/frozen (e.g., tomatoes, cabbage, avocado)
   Other-mostly water canned (e.g., green beans, mushrooms, beets)
   Other-mostly water fresh/frozen (e.g., green beans, mushrooms, cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, onions)
   Other

Data include the following variables (unless otherwise noted, variables are included in both files):

• Dollars—total value of sales
• Dollars last year—total value of sales same week last year
• Unit sales—total units sold, any size
• Unit sales last year—total units sold, any size, same week last year
• Volume sales—total volume sold in equivalent units
• Volume sales last year—total volume sold in equivalent units, same week last year
• Percent change dollars—change in sales value since same week last year, as a percent of last year’s sales value
• Percent change units—change in units sold of any size since same week last year, as a percent of last year’s units sold
• Percent change volume—change since same week last year, as a percent of last year’s volume
• Share—category share of total sales (National file only)
• Share last year—category share of total sales, same week 1 year prior (National file only)
• Percent change share—change in share since same week last year, as a percent of last year’s share (National file only)