UK holiday seafood sales strong

Chilled and frozen seafood sales are expected to be higher this holiday season through New Year’s due to overall higher spending on seafood, and especially higher-end products.

Already, Nielsen ScanTrack data shows a jump in dollar sales of fresh seafood from GBP 1.95 million (USD 2.4 million, EUR 2.3 milion) for the 52 weeks ending 5 December 2015, to a little more than GBP 2 million (USD 2.5 million, EUR 2.4 million) for the 52 weeks ending 3 December 2016.

“The majority of this years’ sales growth has been driven by the increased purchase frequency, of slightly more expensive chilled fish, by more households. Chilled seafood sales will be higher than last year as it is currently experiencing value, volume and unit sales growth,” said Julie Brooks, market insight analyst for Seafish.

In addition, the overall U.K. grocery market is set for a 1.2 percent increase in sales over the Christmas period, with shoppers projected to spend GBP 20.6 billion (USD 25.5 billion, EUR 24.4 billion), according to a forecast from research firm IGD.

“Although our forecast indicates relatively modest growth, with overall prices lower than a year ago, this would represent a strong result for retailers and manufacturers,” said Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD, in a press statement.

Another positive sign for Christmas food sales: by mid-November, 53 percent of shoppers had already purchased some food and grocery items for Christmas, according to IDG.
Plus, more shoppers will buy their groceries online this holiday season, with a predicted 9.3 percent hike generating BP 1.2 billion (USD 1.5 billion, EUR 1.4 billion) in sales, according to IDG.

“The launch of Amazon Fresh and of Aldi Online this year extends shoppers’ choice and people will also benefit from more one-hour delivery slots, shorter lead times and the growing availability of click-and-collect from established players,” IDG said.

Frozen seafood sales are also expected to rise slightly this holiday season, based on trends so far this year. Sales are up slightly from BP 685,364 (USD 849,097, EUR 813,078) for the 52 weeks ending 5 December, 2015 to BP 689,394 (USD 854, 090, EUR 817,859) for the 52 weeks ending 3 December 2016.

“Frozen seafood is seeing sales value growth driven by inflation, as volume and unit sales are still in decline,” Brooks said.

However, Nielsen predicted that, overall, “Shoppers are unlikely to increase their spending on Christmas groceries versus last year. This provides a challenge to try and encourage shoppers to spend more than anticipated,” Nielsen said in its Christmas Insights Report 2016.

That means that grocers have to run signficiant promotions on chilled and frozen seafood and many are doing just that. Aldi, for example is offering a Specialty Selected Seafood Platter that includes whole tiger prawns with lemon mayonnaise, honey roast salmon flakes, Orkney Crab Pâté and moist peppered mackerel. The 554-gram holiday entertaining platter retails for GBP 7.99 (USD 9.90, EUR 9.48). Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s Mild Smoked Salmon is on special for GBP 5.00 (USD 6.19, EUR 5.93) for 300 grams.

“Competition is set to be as intense as ever and not only on price. Those retailers and suppliers who combine to offer excellent value plus a compelling in-store experience will capitalize on the strong emotional connection between food, drink and Christmas,” Denney-Finch said.


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