A new report by New York-based Nielsen shows that store brand sales jumped by nearly 10% in 2017 in mass merchandisers, club stores and dollar stores, while the mass channel came closer than ever before to overtaking traditional supermarkets as the place where consumers buy their groceries. Total sales in the mass channel reached $305 billion versus $324 billion in supermarkets, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA), New York.

Sales of store brands in the mass channel increased sharply in both dollars and units, while national brands grappled with fractional declines, Nielsen data show. Private label dollar sales were up 9.3%, while unit sales were up 9.1%. In contrast, national brands slipped 0.3% in dollar volume and fell back a full 1% in unit volume, PLMA said.

Thanks entirely to store brands, overall dollar sales in the mass channel during 2017 grew 1.3%, while unit sales rose 1%. Total store brand dollar sales were $54.9 billion, compared to $50.2 billion for the prior year, a run-up of nearly $5 billion, PLMA noted. In unit volume, store brands rose to 17.9 billion from 16.4 billion.

As a result of their strong 52-week performance, private label market shares in the mass channel soared. Dollar share saw a 1.3 percentage-points gain to 18%; unit share advanced 1.6 points to 21.4%, also all-time highs.

The results in the mass channel for 2017 pushed Nielsen’s store brands figures to positive territory across all outlets combined, despite weak performances for private label in supermarkets and drugstores, PLMA said. For total outlets, store brand dollar sales were up 2.7% to $122.3 billion, and unit volume rose 1.4% to 44.6 billion. Correspondingly, store brand dollar market share in all outlets gained half a point, up to 18%, while unit share increased 0.6 points to 21.7%.