US retail seafood sales facing continued headwinds in 2023

A U.S. seafood shopper at the seafood counter

Continued food inflation causing shoppers to trade down to cheaper items is expected to impact U.S. grocery seafood sales this year, and Walmart’s concerns about shoppers and Lidl’s corporate layoffs also signal trouble ahead for overall grocery sales.

Walmart reported higher Q4 revenue and an 8.3 percent increase in U.S. comparable store sales, but CEO Doug McMillon warned that shoppers are more cautious and the retailer lowered its profit outlook for the year. Walmart expects "stubborn inflation" in food, Walmart executives said on an analyst call, per Barron’s.

However, Walmart realized more frequent trips from households with an annual income of USD 100,000 (EUR 94,500) or more during the quarter. 

People are really price-focused now, regardless of income level,” McMillon said in August, per CNBC.

Walmart executives also noted a spike in the retailer’s private label sales, and McMillon told CNBC he plans to keep the retailer’s own private brands priced low. While McMillon said he would prefer that Walmarts brand partners and suppliers step forward” on their own to lower prices, he wants to play a role in helping get prices down.”

The company is not participating in a recession if there is one,” McMillon said. I think we have historically shown that we can bring prices down.”

As Walmart forecasts a lower profit, Neckarsulm, Germany-based discount supermarket chain Lidl is taking steps to restructure its business. The comapny laid off around 200 employees in its U.S. operations as it initiates a restructuring of its business.

“While we remain committed to the long-term success of Lidl US and look forward to continuing our expansion along the East Coast, we are continually evaluating our operations to ensure we are supporting our stores effectively,” Lidl US Senior Manager of Communications and Public Relations Chandler (Ebeier) Spivey told SeafoodSource. “As a part of this process, we have made the difficult decision at this time to eliminate a number of roles across the Company.”

The layoffs will “mainly impact our headquarters team, with no impacted employees at the store level,” Spivey added.

Grocery executives said they are concerned about the impact that continued food inflation will have on sales throughout the year

Photo courtesy of QualityHD/Shutterstock

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