Shrimp a Holiday Bright Spot for Retailers

Published on
December 15, 2008

Shrimp party trays are one of retail seafood departments’ bright spots this holiday season. Seafood merchandisers are banking on discounts and events designed to create excitement in order to move shrimp cocktail rings and peel-and-eat shrimp.

Instead of discounting its cooked shrimp party trays, United Supermarkets of Lubbock, Texas, is running a contest between the seafood departments in its 48 stores. The departments with the highest shrimp party tray sales receive cash toward the store’s employee appreciation days and its seafood department receives other prizes.

Several United stores have created islands of shrimp trays with tailgating and holiday themes, complete with decorations. Employees are also dressing up to match the theme.

“I don’t have the numbers yet, but I know we are selling a lot more trays than in the past,” says Scott Nettles, director of market and seafood for United Supermarkets.

The trays retail for $25.99 for 3 pounds and $35.99 for 4 pounds of 31/40-count cooked-and-peeled shrimp.

Party tray discounts are working well for some retailers. Winn-Dixie in Jacksonville, Fla., promoted a 16-ounce bag of Fisherman’s Wharf medium cooked cocktail shrimp on a “buy one, get one free” (BOGOF) promotion for $10.99 per bag. A 10-ounce Fisherman’s Wharf cocktail shrimp ring was also BOGOF from Dec. 10 to Dec. 16, a savings of $5.99 per ring.

Grocers are also trying to move shrimp in the case by promoting it as part of a family meal.

A recent ad put out by Publix Super Markets in Lakeland, Fla., compared the price of making a shrimp linguini entrée with salad and bread at home to the price of a similar restaurant meal. The circular explains that it can cost shoppers $17.95 to buy all the ingredients for the meal at Publix versus $68 for buying the same meal for four adults in a restaurant.

The promotion is designed to “get families back to the dinner table, especially since all families are experiencing this economic pinch,” says Publix spokesman Dwaine Stevens.

Recognizing that shoppers are especially time-pressed during the holiday season, many grocery chains are also promoting their prepared, ready-to-cook seafood items. For example, Ingles Markets of Asheville, N.C., featured Stuffed Tilapia for $5.98 a pound in a recent ad, a $2 discount off the regular price. The store’s Mediterranean Crusted Salmon Fillets were also on sale from Dec. 7 to Dec. 13, for $7.48 a pound, a savings of $1.20 a pound.

Contributing Editor

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