As inflationary costs hit the consumer packaged goods industry, nearly nine in 10 manufacturers plan to take a price increase this year — the second, third or more since COVID for 66% of them — and half of retailers plan to pass most or all of these latest increases on to shoppers, according to “Advantage Sales Outlook | March 2022,” based on the results of two surveys by SMARTeam, Advantage Sales’ consumer goods insights team.

Despite climbing product prices, half of manufacturers and retailers predict unit sales will grow in the next six months compared to the previous six — just one-fourth foresee a decline in unit sales, according to the nearly 100 Advantage Sales clients and customers who responded to the online surveys between January 20 and February 6, 2022.

Among the key findings:

Two-thirds of manufacturers say price increases have had a net negative effect on their business. Four in 10 believe they have negatively impacted their business relationships. The same percentage say their price hikes have led to increased fees.

Retailers predict shoppers will be less brand loyal as shelf prices rise. About half predict shoppers will transition from branded to private label products (50%), from premium to mainstream brands (45%) and from mainstream to value brands (47%).

A greater percentage of manufacturers (38%) than retailers (25%) believe their online commerce is more profitable now than pre-COVID. Still, more than half of retailers report the rise of e-commerce has led to improved market share.

Retailers and manufacturers disagree on the near future of supply levels. Most manufacturers believe supply will be 81% or higher for the next six months, while only 26% of retailers anticipate the same. More than half of retailers say poor supply and labor challenges are equally to blame for out-of-stocks.

To deal with in-store labor shortages, six in 10 retailers are increasing space devoted to self-checkout and nearly half are attending only to prioritized tasks. Industrywide, companies are hoping to bolster retention at headquarters and in sales roles by focusing on professional development and advancement and by improving their corporate culture. Retailers, much more than manufacturers, are looking to slow turnover with better compensation, including benefits.

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