April 20, 2009

Passover Sales Surge Surprise Retailers

New York…Consumer spending this Passover was surprisingly strong despite fears that the deepening recession would make this one of the weakest holiday seasons. A survey of a half dozen retailers offered mixed results. Some retailers were expecting double digit growth while others called sales “flat.” Many retailers were surprised at the level of sales saying that even cash strapped middle class shoppers spent as much as in the past. The retail optimism came amidst reports from Jewish agencies throughout the country at the staggering number of food distributed this Passover. One distributor said that many consumers took advantage of loss leaders, shopping for specials in multiple stores to round out their Passover baskets. Many discount grocers like Costco got into the act this Passover. Schick’s Bakery, a leading baker of Passover pastries, was in 19 Costco stores with his Passover selection. Most of these stores also carried an ample supply of Kedem Grape Juice. As has become customary in the last few years, many shoppers complained of spot shortages. While there was an ample supply of flavored Matzoh, Tam Tam’s and margarine, all subjects of shortages last year, some Boro Park stores ran out of kosher for Passover ketchup.

Pomegranate, the relatively new 20,000 square foot supermarket in Midwood that has received a great deal of attention in the media as well as with shoppers was a destination of choice for consumers from throughout the New York Metro. Harriet Kriegel drove more than an hour from her home in Westchester to do her Passover shopping at Pomegranate. She came because she was “impressed by the cleanliness, merchandising, selection and service” on her previous visit. That visit was prompted by an article Kriegel read about the store in a magazine. Mahmoud Ali, a Muslim who tries to only buy kosher, merely happened to see the store once and walked in. Now he shops there on a regular basis. He favors Pomegranate because “the food is high quality and the store is very clean.” Pomegranate offered a broad variety of salads, dips, meats and cheeses. Mr. Ali seemed to savor the Passover foods.