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    Supermarket Sales Up 3.4 Percent in October

    ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. - Sales at the nation's grocery stores last month grew 3.4 percent compared to the same period last year, the Food Institute reports. Total sales in October 2003 reached $38.2 billion. Meanwhile, growth at the nation's eating and drinking places is more than doubling the small gain seen at food and beverage stores.

    ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. - Sales at the nation's grocery stores last month grew 3.4 percent compared to the same period last year, the Food Institute reports. Total sales in October 2003 reached $38.2 billion. The latest figure brings cumulative 2003 sales to $378.3 billion or 3.3 percent more than a year ago.

    Next week, the Food Institute will deflate that figure by consumer food price inflation when that data is released from the Labor Department. Meanwhile, wholesale food price inflation is running at 3.5 percent through the first 10 months of 2003, the Food Institute said.

    Overall food and beverages store sales totaled $42.5 billion during October -- 4.3 percent more than a year earlier, suggesting that sales at non-grocery stores increased more rapidly than grocery stores, according to the Food Institute. These outlets include specialized stores such as meat and fish markets, produce stores, candy stores, and retail bakeries. They do not include warehouse clubs and supercenters.

    Meanwhile, growth at the nation's eating and drinking places is more than doubling the small gain seen at food and beverage stores, according to Food Institute analysis of Census data. Foodservice sales rose 6.9 percent for the first 10 months of 2003. During October, foodservice sales jumped 11.5 percent from the same month last year, to $31.2 billion.

    Some of this increase is the result of higher menu prices, particularly for beef at full-service restaurants, the Food Institute notes. However, it also reflects a turnaround reported at some of the nation's limited service chains, including McDonald's.

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