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Retail Report: Eastern region drives lobster sales

More than half of volume sold on promotion

May 04, 2012

Over the past year, inflation has driven average retail prices up, especially in the seafood department. At 7.3 percent, the seafood department tied the meat department for the largest increase in average retail price within the fresh departments. A decline in promotions for the seafood department contributed to rising average retail prices; seafood circular ad count declined 2.7 percent for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 28. American lobster has not avoided these conditions, as average retail prices increased 5.8 percent and volume sold on promotion declined 14.7 percent. 

Lobster is included in the fourth-largest category in the seafood department, crustaceans, which account for 11.1 percent of department sales. Lobster accounts for 34.6 percent of crustacean category dollars, second to crabs. Lobster accounted for 3.8 percent of total dollars in the overall seafood department, down 0.1 percent versus the same period last year. Over the past five years (stable store methodology), the average retail prices for lobster fluctuated from a high of $11.80 in 2007 down to $8.01 in 2009, and back up to $9.24 in 2011. 

Lobster brought in the most dollar sales per store the week ending Dec. 31, 2011 (the week of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays) at $983. That’s $238 higher than the second-highest sales week, the week ending Feb. 19, which coincided with Valentine’s Day. Both of these weeks had the highest volume percent sold on promotion of the year at more than 76 percent across the United States. The lowest sales week was during the week ending Oct. 1, with sales of $106 per store, and it was the fifth-lowest week for volume sold on promotion at 18.8 percent. The lowest week of promotional volume was the week of March 5.

Across the nation, dollar sales for lobster remained steady from the prior year. The Eastern region accounted for nearly half (48.7 percent) of all lobster sales, bringing in an average of $642 per store per week (down 4.2 percent from the prior year). The Southern region had the lowest weekly sales rate of $131 per store (down 1.2 percent compared to the previous year), and experienced a 10 percent increase in average retail price, the largest price hike of all the regions. The Central region was the only area with growth in weekly lobster sales from the prior year, up 11.6 percent ($159 per store), as average retail prices declined 5.9 percent. The West region saw declines similar to the Eastern region (down 3.9 percent) and sold $182 per store.    

Nationally, 51.9 percent of lobster volume sold while on promotion in the latest 52 weeks; this was a decline of 5.6 percentage points from the prior year, as the promotional average retail price increased 5.5 percent. The Central region, which saw considerable growth, also declined in the percent of volume sold on promotion, but decreased promotional and everyday retail prices 3.3 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively, driving the growth in the category. The East region, which drives lobster sales for the nation, increased both promotional and everyday retail prices by more than 5 percent, which brought weekly volume per store down 9.8 percent. The South region saw the biggest decline in the percent of lobster volume sold on promotion, down 9.3 points due to the 11.1 percent increase in average retail price.

This sales review is provided by the Nielsen Perishables Group. Reported results are for Jan. 29, 2011, through Jan. 28, 2012, compiled from grocery stores nationwide representing 62.6 percent of national supermarket ACV share. For more information, contact Kelli Beckel at the Nielsen Perishables Group: (773) 929-7013; Kelli.Beckel@nielsen.com.

May 2012 - SeaFood Business 

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