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Retail Report: Total seafood category review

Haddock, tilapia, lobster were retail sales winners

March 01, 2010

With the ongoing troubled economy, consumers continue to shift spending habits by eating out less and preparing meals at home instead. Evidence of this shift can be seen in retail seafood sales. The department tripled the average weekly 
dollar growth of any other perishables department in the past year, up 5.6 percent in the latest 52 weeks, ending Nov. 28, 2009.

Nationally, the seafood department averaged $6,093 in sales per store per week. The seafood department includes fresh seafood, comprising 81.5 percent of department dollar sales; prepared seafood, making up 15.3 percent; and other seafood (sauces, dips and spreads), contributing 3.2 percent. Fresh seafood posted $4,968 in per-store-per-week sales, a 6.3 percent increase from the previous year, while prepared seafood was up 3.3 percent at $901.

The seafood department had above-average dollar sales for the weeks ending Dec. 20, 2008, through Jan. 3, 2009, and peaked the week ending Dec. 27, 2008, at $9,775. The department also posted above-average weekly sales in five out of the seven weeks of Lent, which ran from Feb. 25 to April 12, 2009.

The seafood department's average weekly dollar sales were up from the prior year in all regions. The South and West outpaced the growth of the total United States, up 7.1 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. Rounding out the total U.S. sales were the East, up 4 percent, and the Central region, up 2.3 percent in the latest 52 weeks. Average weekly sales growth occurred in all regions. Driving that trend, the East significantly outpaced all other regions in weekly store sales, up 4 percent from the previous year to $10,256. While the South and the West had the lowest average weekly sales, they had the highest year-over-year growth, up 7.1 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively.

Both nationally and regionally, the seafood department was up in contribution to total perishables over the prior year, contributing 5 percent to the category. Fueling this contribution, both the South and the East outpaced the national average, contributing 5.5 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively.

The main standout in fresh seafood was the crustacean category, which posted the highest average weekly dollar-sales increase. All crustacean subcategories were up in the latest 52 weeks, driven primarily by lobster. Average weekly crustacean sales increased 21.8 percent per store to $826. Lobsters, with prices at record lows, were up 47.9 percent in average weekly sales to $240 per store, placing the species firmly in the top 10 subcategories in the seafood department across fresh and prepared seafood.

The finfish category was up 6 percent in average weekly sales to $2,019. Of the 15 finfish subcategories, 66.7 percent experienced growth in weekly store sales. Haddock and tilapia posted the largest gains, up 22.4 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively.

The shrimp category was down 1.3 percentage points to 27.9 percent in overall contribution to total seafood, driven primarily by losses in cooked shrimp. Raw shrimp was up 5.3 percent in average weekly sales to $961, while cooked shrimp fell 4.5 percent to $772.

Prepared seafood increased in average weekly sales, up 3.3 percent to $930 per store. Increases in seven of the top 10 subcategories drove the prepared-seafood increases, led by the prepared-fish subcategory (up 5.5 percent to $316 in per-store-per-week-sales) and prepared crustaceans (up 4.1 percent to $283). Though these increases were not large enough to maintain the previous share of total seafood, prepared seafood declined 0.3 percentage point to 15.3 percent in dollar contribution to the department.

Seafood-department historical, average, weekly dollar trends were up 26.4 percent from 2004. All super-categories had double-digit growth: Fresh seafood was up 22.5 percent, prepared seafood was up 54.1 percent, and other seafood was up 19.5 percent.


This sales review is provided by the Perishables Group, Inc. (PG), Chicago, Ill., an independent consulting firm focused on innovation and creating value for clients in the fresh food industry. Reported results are for Nov. 30, 2008 through Nov. 28, 2009, and were compiled from grocery stores nationwide, representing 61.8 percent of national supermarket ACV share. Sales data provided by Perishables Group FreshFacts® powered by Nielsen.

For more information, contact Kelli Beckel; phone: (773) 929-7013; e-mail:kellib@perishablesgroup.com.



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