6 keys to seafood Christmas sales

Published on
November 25, 2015

While retailers have had difficulties selling chilled seafood due to economic challenges over the past year, the Christmas selling season provides an opportunity to sell a lot of seafood in a short amount of time.

“The seafood category is currently experiencing annual decline so beating last year’s uplift will be a challenge but, the festive season does present a great opportunity to bring shoppers back into the category,” said Julia Brooks, market insight analyst for Seafish.

If the numbers for last Christmas are any indication, seafood sales should be very strong again this year. There was a signficiant 16 percent lift in total frozen and fresh seafood sales for the two weeks from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day in 2014, according to AC Nielsen Scantrack.

Smartly, Sainsbury, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and the other major grocery chains have been promoting their holiday seafood platters and other items since early November. Among Marks & Spencer’s upscale holiday offerings is a package of six King Prawn & Salmon Appetizers. The “mini shots” of king prawns, which feature a poached Scottish Lochmuir Salmon, red onion and lemon crème fraiche, retail for £15 (EUR 21.24, USD 22.60) per package.

Aldi is featuring a number of items on its “All Your Favourite Things for Christmas – Fish” page on its web site, including cooked Canadian lobster (available in store), smoked Scottish salmon for £2.49 (EUR 3.53, USD 3.75) per 100 g. and large scallops for £4.49 (EUR 6.36, USD 6.76) each.

“Consumers trade up to more premium species over the holidays and uplifts are seen in salmon, warm water prawns, cold water prawns, lobster, crab and scallops,” Brooks said. In addition to those popular seafood species, items with the greatest lift in Christmas sales over the past three years include seafood platters, ready-to-cook fillets or prepared seafood starters, natural items, battered seafood such as tempura king prawns and sauces such cocktail sauce for prawns, Coquille St Jacques and lobster thermador, according to AC Nielsen Scantrack.

Besides the primary grocery chains, independent fishmongers and wholesalers also expect a strong holiday selling season. “Christmas is always a particularly busy time of the year. It is one of the times consumers are willing to spend more,” said Jonathan Batchelor, managing director of Ramus Seafoods, a North Yorkshire retailer and supplier to hotels and restaurants.

Both retail and hotel/ restaurant customers like to buy lobster, prawns and smoked salmon around Christmas according to Batchelor. In fact, last year, the retailer sold around 300 platters featuring a combination of lobster, smoked salmon and crabs on Christmas Eve.

However, just because shoppers are willing to spend on some premium items for Christmas dinner, doesn’t mean that retailers won’t have to work extra hard to get their business throughout the season.

Here are some of the techniques grocers should be using to boost seafood sales this holiday season:

  1. Offer discounts. “Overall, retailers are currently experiencing challenging times with deflation, the discounters and weak volume growths therefore, strong promotions and branded price cuts/guarantees are expected,” Brooks said.
  2. Offer seafood platters that offer a variety of premium seafood for gatherings with family and friends. Sainsbury’s is offering a value seafood platter for £14 (EUR 19.82, USD 21.09), which includes chili and coriander prawns, tail-on prawns, peppered mackerel, crab mousse and a lemon dipping sauce.
  3. Seafood items that retailers should definitely sell for Christmas: Fresh, battered seafood items grew a whopping 97 percent in 2014, according to AC Nielsen Scantrack, while fresh prepared seafood sales jumped 66 percent and fresh seafood sauces spiked 65 percent.
  4. Over the last two years, multi-buy promotions were the most popular, but retailers used more “save an amount” promotions increased last year, Brooks said.
  5. Radio advertising and special events – as well as price discounts on certain items like salmon and lobster – are a great way to boost sales throughout the holidays, according to Batchelor. “It’s a great opportunity for people to re-engage with us and hopefully come back in the new year.”
  6. The high end seafood ranges need to effectively communicate their points of difference to deliver quality and value to an increasingly savvy shopper, according to Brooks.
Contributing Editor



Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500