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Retail Report: Salmon dollars up

Promo volume accounts for one-quarter of overall sales

May 01, 2013

Salmon remains a popular choice among American consumers seeking healthful meal options. Average weekly dollar sales of the omega-3 and antioxidant-rich fish increased 11.4 percent during the 52 weeks ending Jan. 

26, 2013. Overall, sales trends continued to grow for salmon, the largest contributor to fresh seafood department sales. Decreased promotional pricing spurred sales of the promotional-driven category, and contributed to steady gains throughout the year. An increase in ads also generated more sales for this popular species.   

Fresh seafood contributed 79.2 percent of dollars to the seafood department, with salmon’s contribution to fresh seafood reaching 14.3 percent overall, a 0.9 percentage point rise over the prior year. Within the finfish category, salmon accounted for 38 percent of sales, up 2.9 percentage points from the previous year’s contribution. Dollar sales for the finfish category were up from the prior year, in part
because of salmon’s continued growth. 

Nationally, salmon’s weekly average sales increased to $937 per store. Coastal regions accounted for the bulk of weekly sales, with the East and West posting $1,367 and $1,020 per store, respectively. The Central region underperformed com-
pared to the total U.S. performance, with $842 per store. The South posted the lowest average weekly salmon sales at $770 per store, but
experienced the largest gain, up 14.6 percent compared to the previous year.   

Although department sales traditionally peak during the New Year’s holiday, salmon’s strongest week was that of the Fourth of July, reaching $1,156 per store. This sales peak was an 18 percent increase over the prior year and implies salmon is gaining traction as a grill option during summer celebrations.  Salmon sales on or around winter holidays, however, did not fare as well. Thanksgiving and Christmas were two of the slowest weeks for salmon during the year, with weekly sales for both holidays dipping below $700 per store. 

Seafood sales were heavily driven by promotions during the 52 weeks, and salmon was no exception. When on promotion, salmon experienced a 97.7 percent volume lift. Promotional volume accounted for approximately one-quarter of total salmon sales. Salmon’s average promotional retail price declined 10 percent during the latest 52 weeks, offering shoppers a lower sale price.  

The Eastern region led salmon’s promotional sales, accounting for 33.2 percent of total sales. The South had success at 43.1 percent promotional efficiency, (the overall effectiveness of the promotion in generating sales lift after factoring out what would have sold regardless of the promotion). This led to a 123.2 percent volume lift on promotion, which was more than 25.5 points higher than the U.S. average. 

An increase in prominent finfish advertising in retail circulars contributed to the growth of promotional sales. Front-page ads for finfish increased more than 25 percent during the 52-week period. However, back- and middle-page ads decreased 12 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Sixty-five percent of all salmon ads were located on the middle pages of circulars. Finfish ad counts were highest in the South, but decreased 4.3 percent from the previous year. Ad activity in the Central region also decreased 4.4 percent and had the fewest number of ads. Coastal regions helped boost finfish ad counts, as both the East and West increased 4 percent.  

Finfish ad counts were highest the week ending Feb. 25, 2012, which was the first week of the 2012 Lenten season. Three of the five weeks with the highest ad count were during Lent season, peaking with a 45 percent increase compared with the total U.S. average. The lowest ad-count weeks occurred the weeks of Thanksgiving and the following week, as retailers focused on more traditional proteins. 

This sales review is provided by the 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 the 52 weeks ending January 26, 2013. Results were compiled from key U.S. grocery, mass/supercenter and club chains, including 18,000 stores nationwide. For more information, contact Kelli Beckel at (773) 929-7013; kelli.beckel@nielsen.com.

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