Merry seafood outlook expected for US retailers this holiday season

Salmon dish with a Christmas-themed background.

Consultants and grocers are anticipating higher sales of seafood in U.S. retail stores over the holidays, as research points to many Americans wanting to cook at home more during the year-end break.

“We expect seafood sales to continue their positive trends throughout November and December,” Fresh Thyme Meat and Seafood Sales, Merchandising, Marketing, and Procurement Lead Jason Resner told SeafoodSource. “It might not be [the increase] of 35 percent or more we saw last year, but we still expect double-digit sales comps in fresh seafood such as salmon, as well as crab and shrimp.”

Downers Grove, Illinois, U.S.A.-based grocer Fresh Thyme operates 70 stores across the U.S. Midwest region, and Resner expects the store’s customers to splurge on “indulgent” items this holiday season, including crab, shrimp, and lobster. 

To that end, after experiencing record snow crab sales this year, Fresh Thyme will continue to promote its snow crab legs, as well as other products such as shrimp, throughout December and New Year’s weekend.

Resner admitted retail inflation will affect crab prices throughout December, but said Fresh Thyme locked in holiday costs earlier in the year. Therefore, the grocer will have some offers that are “much more attractive than the prices they will see on any restaurant menu for seafood.”

210 Analytics Principal Anne-Marie Roerink said she also believes that Americans will be willing to splurge more on luxury seafood products during this year’s holiday season.

Americans have continued to travel more in 2023, particularly to gather with family and friends. These types of gatherings often include preparing large meals, which is a trend that bodes well for the fresh seafood category, Roerink said.

“Consumers seem very aware of inflation having pushed the price point higher than the typical holiday spend, but special occasions are important; that means a greater willingness to splurge a little,” she said.

Those gatherings, according to Buffalo, New York, U.S.A.-based Rich Products, which owns the SeaPak and Morey’s seafood brands, might be a bit smaller but are likely to involve cooked meals.

Rich’s 2023 shopper insight study found that 58 percent of consumers prefer small, food-centric gatherings compared to large events and that 79 percent of Americans use those events to try “new and interesting foods.”

“Over time, home entertaining has shifted away from formal dinner parties to more casual social events with smaller, bite-sized food options, which not only impacts food and beverage buying behaviors but also manifests in how and where people gather at home,” Rich Products Senior Manager of Strategic Insights Amanda Buonopane said. “For example, we’re seeing the ‘disappearing dining room’ trend among the younger generation. They prefer open floor plans with more flexibility for guests to grab a snack while socializing around the kitchen island.”

Still, consumers will remain ... 

Photo courtesy of Marian Weyo/Shutterstock

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