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Retail Report: Finfish drives Lenten sales

Shrimp volume peaks during Easter week

February 05, 2011

Late winter brings the Lenten season, a high-volume period for retail seafood sales as some consumers abstain from all meat except seafood every Friday between Ash Wednesday and Easter. This seven-week time frame for 2010 ran from the week ending Feb. 20 through April 3, providing the second-highest peak in fresh seafood sales, behind only the Christmas holiday. Trends for the four regions were similar to the total U.S. trends.

During the latest 52 weeks ending Oct. 30, 2010, the finfish category had its highest weekly sales the week of Ash Wednesday with $2,794 per store, an increase of $612 from the prior week. Finfish accounted for 47.2 percent of total seafood dollars during the 2010 Lenten season. Salmon was the main finfish sales driver, as it contributed 36.1 percent of category dollars. Salmon increased dollar sales by 29.8 percent the first week of Lent compared to the previous week. Tilapia and cod/scrod also saw healthy spikes during the same week, up 32.1 percent and 60.5 percent, respectively, compared to the prior week.

Shrimp represented 32.2 percent of fresh seafood, and saw higher sales during the two-week period prior to the start of Lent than the first week due to Valentine’s Day. Also peaking the week prior to the start of Lent were crab sales, which declined the week of Ash Wednesday but rose again in the middle of Lent during the week of March 13. This coincided with an average retail price dip to $5.59 and weekly sales dollars of $662 per store. Lobsters were the only crustacean category to peak the first week of Lent.  

While mollusks account for just 5.9 percent of the total dollars in fresh seafood during Lent, the first week of this holiday period spurred the category’s fourth-highest dollar sales per week behind the weeks of Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s. In the first week of Lent, mollusks sold $403 per store, a 32.1 percent increase over the average for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 30. Scallops accounted for 65.1 percent of that category’s dollar sales during the Lenten season.
Easter signifies the end of Lent, yet the holiday week was the peak time for shrimp during the entire Lenten period, with average weekly sales per store of $1,934.

This sales review is provided by the Perishables Group, an independent consulting firm in Chicago focused on creating innovation and value for clients in the fresh food industry. Reported results are for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 30, 2010. Results were compiled from grocery stores nationwide, representing 63 percent of national supermarket ACV share. 

February 2011 - SeaFood Business 

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