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Retail Report: Stores prepare for busy season

Retailers spurred 2009 holiday sales with decreased pricing

October 01, 2010

While a large amount of consumer spending around the holidays revolves around dining out, the fourth quarter of 2009 realized retail seafood sales growth as pricing declined.

The seafood department is made up of fresh, prepared and other seafood, with fresh seafood accounting for 80 percent of department dollar sales in the fourth quarter of last year. Prepared seafood had a 16.1 percent dollar share, and the remaining 3.7 percent was sauces and seasonings, seafood side items, dips and spreads.

Nationally, weekly fresh seafood sales averaged $4,678 per store in the fourth quarter of 2009, up 5.5 percent from the prior year, as increased sales were driven by price reductions. All regions increased in fresh seafood weekly dollar sales per store since 2008.

Fresh seafood sales in the fourth-quarter holiday season peaked the week of Christmas at $7,732 per store, an increase of 0.7 percent from the prior year, as consumers celebrated the New Year holiday with shrimp, crabs, salmon and lobsters. Sales were also high the week prior to Christmas at $5,137 and the week of Thanksgiving at $4,775.

Crustaceans, the third top-selling fresh seafood category, boasted the greatest dollar growth as average retail prices declined 15.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared to the prior year. Crabs drove the category's trend, accounting for 58.8 percent dollar share and posting an increase of 37.7 percent in dollars per store/week. This was likely due to an average 20 percent decline in pricing. Lobster prices decreased 4.9 percent since the prior year, and drove sales up 13.4 percent to $201 per store/week.

Prepared seafood (including surimi seafood, value-added seafood and meals) weekly sales averaged $941 per store, up 0.6 percent from the prior year. The East region had the highest sales with an average of $1,560 per store per week, remaining flat from the prior year. This was followed by the Central region with $1,010 in average weekly store sales, down 2.5 percent. The West was the only region to increase weekly sales (6.1 percent) of prepared seafood to $846 per store p er week. The lowest prepared seafood sales were in the 
South region at an average of $716, down 1.8 percent.

As the 2010 holiday season approaches, the seafood department will be challenged to meet the impressive sales brought about 
by low retail prices 
in 2009.

This sales review is provided by the Perishables Group, Inc. (PG), Chicago, an independent consulting firm focused on innovation and creating value for clients in the fresh food industry. Reported results are for Oct. 3, 2009, to Dec. 26, 2009, compiled from grocery stores nationwide, representing 63.3 percent of national supermarket ACV share.


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