US retail seafood sales continue strong performance in November

Published on
December 17, 2020

Grocery store sales rose 1.6 percent in November, with total sales getting a boost from more Americans eating at home due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

Sales at grocery stores specifically jumped 1.9 percent to USD 63.5 billion (EUR 52 billion). And, compared to November 2019, grocery sales soared 10.9 percent at food and beverage stores. However, overall retail sales dropped 0.8 percent in November, though sales at food and beverage stores reached USD 71.4 billion (EUR 58 million), according to advance estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Fresh and frozen seafood sales far exceeded total grocery sales growth for the month. Both fresh and frozen seafood sales benefitted from consumers eating and cooking at home more in November, along with increased seafood buying during Thanksgiving week, according to the Census Bureau.

Fresh seafood sales at all grocery retailers soared 25.3 percent to USD 447 million (EUR 364 million) in November, according to IRI data. Shellfish sales jumped a significant 31 percent compared to last November, while finfish sales spiked 22.6 percent.

Fresh seafood increased its unit and volume sales over November 2019 as well, 210 Analytics Principal Anne-Marie Roerink told SeafoodSource. Total fresh seafood advanced 20.7 percent in unit sales – the number of transactions – and 24.5 percent in volume.

“This means that virtually all dollar gains were driven by increased purchases, versus getting any help from inflation,” Roerink said.

Frozen seafood continued to see very strong sales totals in November, rising nearly 29 percent to USD 468 million (EUR 382 million), according to IRI. Volume also rose 24.2 percent for the month.

For Thanksgiving week (the week of 29 November), seafood realized the highest sales increase of all fresh departments, rising 20 percent.

Several major grocery retailers reported a surge overall sales – particularly e-commerce sales – in their quarterly earnings reports. Costco Wholesale said that its total online grocery sales skyrocketed 86.4 percent, and its net sales increased 16.9 percent in its most recent quarter. Costco operates more than 800 stores globally, with most located in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

“Looking at core merchandise categories in relation only to their own sales … margins year-over-year in the quarter were higher by 65 basis points,” Costco Executive Vice President and CFO Richard Galanti told Supermarket News. “Fresh foods was again the biggest driver here. With strong sales in fresh, we benefited from efficiency gains in labor productivity and significantly lower product spoilage.”

Photo courtesy of justinagphoto/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor



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