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Retail Report: Clam sales on slight upswing

Demand for bivalve remains strongest in East region


May 01, 2009

Clams are either harvested in the wild or farmed and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Whatever your preference, no doubt you've either heard of or tried a bowl of New England clam chowder, the mollusk's most popular dish.

Clams were the second largest subcategory in the mollusk category, accounting for 0.8 percent of seafood department sales during the 52 weeks ending Jan. 31. Mollusks, the smallest product category in the fresh seafood department, also include scallops, oysters, mussels, octopus/squid and snails. Scallops are the largest contributor in the mollusks category, with 3 percent of department sales.

Nationally, weekly mollusk sales averaged $278 per store, a 7.3 percent increase from 2007. Clams, including littlenecks, cherrystones and topnecks, averaged $43 per store per week, a 2.6 percent increase from the previous year, making clams third in sales in the mollusk category.

The peak harvest season for clams is in the summer months, which fuels outdoor eating occasions like clambakes. In 2008, clam sales were elevated above the annual average from May 17 through Sept. 9, peaking the week ending July 5 at $116 in average per-store sales, nearly three times the national average. The weeks ending Sept. 6 and Dec. 27, including Labor Day and Christmas, posted the second- and third-highest average weekly sales with $81 and $86, respectively. Clams had the lowest average weekly sales performance in the two weeks leading up to Christmas, with $25 in average weekly sales.

Average weekly dollar sales for clams were up in the East (3.1 percent), South (4.1 percent) and West (6.6 percent) regions compared to the prior year. Clam sales tanked in the South, which saw a 24.4 percent decrease. The East region ranked first in weekly dollar sales per store at $184, more than four times the national average. The East also outpaced the national dollar contribution to the seafood department, contributing 2 percent versus the 0.8 percent contribution of the total United States. Rounding out the regional contributions were the Central, South and West where clams contributed between 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent each to total seafood department sales.


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