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Retail Report: 2012 year in review

Dollar growth shows department turnaround

April 01, 2013

Seafood department sales have suffered in recent years as rising prices hampered growth, but the department actually posted year-on-year growth in 2012. As the economy dipped, the seafood department was hit harder by decreased sales than other fresh departments, but growth in dollars across seafood showed a turnaround last year. A dollar sales increase in prepared seafood suggests consumers are looking for the same conveniences they have sought in the deli and meat departments in recent years, and could be a boon to the category.

Average weekly dollar sales per store increased 3.8 percent nationally to $6,521 during the 52 weeks ending Dec. 29, 2012, driven largely by growth in the South (up 6.8 percent to $6,475 per store per week). The Eastern region had smaller growth of 1.1 percent, but average weekly sales outpaced the rest of the nation by bringing in $9,714 per store. The Central region posted average weekly sales of $5,641 per store (up 2.4 percent), followed by the West with $5,056 per store, also up 1.1 percent versus 2011. 

Fresh seafood was the chief driver of department sales across all regions, responsible for 79.2 percent of sales nationally. Prepared seafood accounted for 17.3 percent of department sales, while other seafood (which consists of sides, dips, seasonings, etc.) brought in 3.5 percent of sales nationwide. Among fresh seafood, finfish and shrimp accounted for the majority of sales (82.5 percent of dollars), while crustaceans drove dollar growth with an increase of 7 percent over the previous year. 

Within fresh seafood, finfish made up 47.7 percent of sales, with weekly dollar sales up 4.1 percent to $2,464 per store. Four species of finfish — salmon, tilapia, cod and catfish — posted sales increases during this time, while dollars decreased significantly in all other sub-categories. Salmon outsold the closest species by more than $300 per store per week, posting $934, up 12.3
percent compared to the previous year. With its lower retail price, tilapia, averaged $622 per store, up 6.5 percent versus 2011.

Shrimp followed finfish, accounting for 34.8 percent of fresh seafood sales nationally and posted average weekly sales of $1,795 per store, up 4 percent from the previous year. The majority of category sales came from average weekly sales of raw shrimp, which sold $923 per store per week, up 5.5 percent from $875 the previous year. Cooked shrimp increased average weekly sales as well, up 2.5 percent to $872 per store.

Regionally, finfish brought in $3,497 per store per week in the Eastern region, compared to $2,385 in the South, $2,267 in the Central region and $2,047 in the West.  In all regions, weekly finfish sales spiked during the weeks of Lent, peaking in the East and Central regions during the first week of Lent with $4,793 per store and $3,118 per store, respectively. Sales in the South and West regions peaked during the week ending March 10, with $2,898 and $2,656 per store, respectively. 

Unlike finfish’s peak sales period in Lent, shrimp sales peaked the final week of the year across all regions, coinciding with Christmas and New Year’s Eve. During the 52 weeks ending Dec. 29, 2012, the East region posted sales of $5,786 per store, followed by the Central region with $3,117 per store, the South with $2,657 per store and the West region with $1,911 per store. 

Prepared seafood accounted for 17.3 percent of dollar sales in the seafood department, down 0.2 points versus 2011. Still, weekly dollars per store increased 4.4 percent to $390 in 2012. Prepared crustaceans, including seasoned or otherwise prepared lobster, crayfish, crabs and crabmeat also increased versus 2011, up 2.6 percent to $371 per store per week.  

Other seafood, including items such as dips, soups and sides, contributed 3.5 percent to seafood department dollar sales in 2012, increasing average weekly sales 2.8 percent to $230 per store. 

This sales review is provided by Nielsen Perishables Group. Based in Chicago, Nielsen Perishables Group specializes in retail measurement, analytics, marketing communications, category development, promotional best practices and shopper insights. Reported results are for Jan. 1, 2012, through Dec.29, 2012. Results were compiled from key U.S. grocery, mass/supercenter and club chains, including 17,000 stores nationwide. For more information, contact Nielsen Perishables Group: Kelli Beckel, (773) 929-7013, email: Kelli.Beckel@nielsen.com.

April 2013 - SeaFood Business  

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