Grocery stores have emerged as a bright spot, posting steady or increased sales at a time when almost all other areas - including auto dealers, furniture retailers and department stores - reported significant declines.
In last week's Commerce Department's monthly retail report, food and beverage stores saw a 4.8 percent increase in October sales compared with the same month last year, while sales compared with the month earlier held steady. Meanwhile, sales at auto and parts dealers fell 23.4 percent, furniture sales were down 13.5 percent, and sales at department stores were down 6.9 percent from October 2007.
Retail experts say supermarket numbers, in general, are up because people still need to eat, but are dining out less and entertaining more at home.
"Supermarkets are the beneficiaries of what the restaurants are losing," said Cynthia Cohen, president of Strategic Mindshare, a retail consulting firm in Miami Beach.