How grocery chains grow sales post-Lent
Promoting seafood that was on special during Lent and offering complete seafood dinners-to-go are some of the creative ways major U.S. grocery chains are continuing to profit from Lent.
The Fresh Market, which operates 185 stores across the U.S., saw a 10 to 15 percent sales lift during the Lenten season by offering “Fish Fridays” specials. Discounted seafood included cod for USD 7.99 (EUR 7.08) per pound and sashimi-grade tuna steaks (around 7-8 ounces each), previously frozen, for USD 7.99 each.
“We have been doing the [Fish Fridays] Lent promotion since 2012 and we continue to push those items right after Lent,” said Brian Harbach, seafood category manager for The Fresh Market. “When we offer those high quality items at an aggressive price, we want to go back and run it again soon, so customers can remember how much they enjoyed it.”
As a result, The Fresh Market ran cod on special again in mid-April and will feature the tuna steaks again this month. “This builds up [sales leading] to the wild salmon season,” Harbach said.
Similarly, Kroger’s new concept store, Main & Vine in Gig Harbor, Washington, wasted no time promoting seafood post-Lent. In early April, it displayed fresh halibut fillets “at a substantial discount [USD 14.99, EUR 13.29 per pound] and platform for seafood sales lift,” said Steven Johnson, grocerant guru at consulting firm Foodservice Solutions. “The offer was for one day only to highlight the fact that fresh halibut was back in season.”
During Lent, Price Chopper’s 134 stores expanded ad space for seafood specials and highlighted its fried seafood dinners, which include sides of coleslaw and fries. To carry forward the significant momentum in its fresh seafood departments gained in the Lenten season, the chain is continuing to put emphasis on prepared foods and convenience.
For example, it recently started “Create, Take and Bake” program, which allows shoppers to create their own seafood dinner to go. They choose a fish or shellfish, cut vegetables and sodium-free spice blend. Its seafood department staff packs the selections in a steamer bag that allows customers to cook the meal easily at home.
Price Chopper is also promoting other “value-added Items that present and eat well, requiring minimal preparation and cook time,” said Anthony R. Snow, director of seafood merchandising for Price Chopper. Also popular is the chain’s complimentary service of seasoning, frying and steaming customers’ seafood.