PLMA & Nielsen Reveal Mass Retail Private Brand Sales Grew $5.2B

The data reported in the 2020 edition of PLMA’s Private Label Yearbook was compiled by Nielsen for the 52 weeks ending December 28, 2019.The data represents 2,328 categories and sub-categories in supermarkets, 1,758 in drug stores, and 2,364 in Nielsen’s all outlets combined.

In this report store brands continued to post impressive gains, extending a multi-year trend, as the distribution of total sales among the largest U.S. retailing channels continued to shift in favor of mass retail outlets.

It should be noted some prominent players—Aldi, Amazon, Costco, and Trader Joe’s among them—are not currently sharing sales figures via Nielsen or other industry data syndication services.


Supermarkets are no longer responsible for a majority of sales. Of nearly $712B in sales for the U.S.  retail market—as represented by Nielsen’s All Outlets Combined—supermarkets accounted for roughly $336B or 47%. Mass retailers—comprised of mass merchandisers, club, and dollar store channels—captured $326B or 46%, while drug chains brought in about $50B or 7%. As recently as 2009, according to Nielsen, supermarkets were responsible for 61% of total dollar sales and drug chains claimed 9% with only the remaining 40% going to the mass retail channels.

Private brand sales in the mass retail channel reported large gains for 2019, increasing +8.3% in total dollar sales and +7.6% in unit volume. Private brand dollar sales totaled $68B, up $5.2B from 2018, and units sold totaled 21.8B, as compared to 20.2B a year ago. With store brands now accounting for one out of every four units sold, private label had an outsized impact on overall growth, driving 61% of incremental dollars. And for the second straight year store brands were responsible for 100% of unit gains for the channel.

Store brands accounted for a record $60.5B in U.S. supermarket channel sales and contributed nearly $350MM, or 6.5%, to the channel’s gains. However, market shares at year end showed marginal declines. Private label dollar share was 18%, down two-tenths of a point from a year ago. Unit share lost one-tenth of a point to end at 22.3% for 2019.


Over the two-year period from 2017-2019 manufacturers brands are down -$350MM, and units are off by more than ½ billion. Since 2017, private label in drug chains is down $382MM and units are lower by nearly 307MM. As a result, the channel as a whole has lost a total of $732MM and 730MM units over the same period.

Private label in drug chains channel fell -0.3 points in 2019 to 16.1% in dollar market share and 15.8% in unit share, compared to 16.4% and 16.1% a year ago, respectively. Among factors contributing to the decline is no doubt the fact that that shoppers are shifting a significant portion of their traditional drug store purchases to the mass retail channel and to a growing number of online sellers, including direct-to-consumer and subscription operators.