According to Nielsen, first quarter dollar sales of private label products across all retail outlets compared to the year before climbed nearly 15% during the first quarter, up $4.9 billion. Total dollar sales of store brands in the first quarter were $38.4 billion and units were 13.2 billion.

Private Label Manufacturers Association President Brian Sharoff said, “There’s no doubt that shopper behavior was highly influenced by consumer fears. Nonetheless, the statistics point to greater acceptance of retailer brands as the Coronavirus crisis evolves.”

Among the retail channels, the strongest gains for store brands occurred in mass, which consists of mass merchandisers, club, and dollar stores. Store brands gained +16.6% in dollar sales and +16.5% in unit sales compared to the same quarter in 2019. That expansion surpassed national brands, which advanced +10.1% in dollars and +7.3% in units. As a result, store brands market shares increased by 1.2 points in dollars to 21.7%, and 1.5 points in units to 25.8%, as compared to the same quarter a year ago.

In supermarkets, store brands also increased, up +12.7% in dollar volume and +9.7% in unit volume. National brands did slightly better, up +15% in dollars and up +11.4% in units. Store brands market shares were unchanged for the quarter, at 18% of dollars and 22.3% of units.

“It’s impossible to say whether current experiences will lead to new behaviors and loyalties that persist among shoppers in the future,” explains Dane Twining, director, public relations for PLMA. “I’d point out that similar questions were raised during the height of the financial crisis a decade ago, and for answers you can point to the millennials and Gen Z, who are among the most value conscious and most open to new brand experiences among all demographics.”

CNN looked at the private-label boom and noted that not only stores like Costco but also specialty retailers like Natural Groceries by Vitamin Cottage were seeing growth in private label sales.

"We do see a continued focus on value during this time period, given economic factors such as joblessness, which leads more consumers to private-label products," Luke Rauch, vice president of commercial strategy at Walgreens, told CNN.

Among meat products, some of the leading private-label products include fresh lamb (63.5% of category dollar share), fresh beef (60.9%), fully cooked chicken (55.8%), fully cooked turkey (39.9%) and bacon (26.9%).

For more information about PLMA and its annual trade show, scheduled for November 15-17 in Chicago, visit IP