Mail-order seafood sales buck recession

Published on
January 12, 2010

The bleak U.S. economy seemed to have little impact on Internet sales, including of sales of seafood gift baskets, during the 2009 holiday season.

In fact, digital marketing intelligence firm comScore in Reston, Va., reported that total Internet sales rose 4 percent to USD 29.1 billion (EUR 20.1 billion) for the November-December 2009 holiday season, compared to the 2008 holiday season. And Black Friday sales jumped 11 percent year-over-year, according to comScore.

“It’s possible that this better-than-expected end-of-year performance is a harbinger of renewed vigor and optimism for 2010 as the consumer economy seeks to rebound from one of the worst years in memory,” said comScore chairman Greg Fulgoni. Effective retailer promotions and a major snowstorm on the East Coast in mid-December also probably spurred online sales, added Fulgoni.

Seafood mail-order companies told SeafoodSource that their sales increased year-over-year, thanks to loyal, repeat customers, as well as consumers looking to prepare meals at home instead of dining out.

“This year, we were up in the volume we shipped. We did 10 or 20 percent better than [the 2008 holiday season],” said T.R. Durham, owner of Durham’s Tracklements, a custom seafood-smoking vendor in Ann Arbor, Mich. Around 75 percent of Durham’s business is mail order during the holiday season.

Ironically, Durham attributes 2009’s increase in sales to a downturn in the economy in Michigan and surrounding states. That spurred a “burgeoning interest in supporting local artisans and businesses,” he said. “Local [mail order] provided a boost far above what would be reasonably expected.”

Nationally, more consumers are choosing to prepare special meals at home, rather than eat out in restaurants, which also increased Tracklements’ sales this year, added Durham.

Mail-order sales have also increased annually for Indian River Seafood, a Sebastian, Fla., retail outlet.

“There are a lot of people who live here who want to send a nice gift to people in New York, for example,” said owner Bill Tiedge. While his customers are concerned about higher shipping costs, mail-order holiday sales were still up around 5 percent in 2009, compared to 2008, noted Tiedge.

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