This Week in Retail: The Outlook for April
Story provided compliments of Urner Barry
With Easter landing in March this year, April now lacks a true retail holiday to spur grocery sales. There are, however, seasonal trends that tend to boost proteins at retail this month, and grocers are already taking advantage in their weekly circulars.
While it seems Spring has sprung, consistently warm weather across the country is truly needed to launch the grilling season once again. Storms in the Midwest and unusually cool weather in the northeast this week and next may be giving pause to consumers previously tempted to pull the grill out of its winter hibernation. Despite this, circulars are featuring ads for grills, charcoal, patio sets and BBQ sauce nonetheless this week, hoping to incentivize shoppers to think Spring!
The 2016 Major League Baseball season begins on April 3rd as the St. Louis Cardinals face the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ballpark business is a key turning point in spring for the food industry, helping to increase protein sales and consumption. Sure enough, grocers this week have hot dogs and sausages featured front and center for fans gearing up for this American pastime.
Ground beef ads have also broke significantly post-Easter, with 80% lean fresh ground beef on sale for an average $3.09 per lb., down 22% from year ago. 90% lean is priced at $4.32 per lb., down nearly 18% from this week last year. In the wholesale market, 81% Coarse Ground beef has fallen 25% from the first of the year, and currently sits at a multi-year low. After two consecutive summers of extremely high ground beef prices, resulting in less feature activity and consumers trading down to competing protein options, this relief in ground beef values could bring back the burgers in 2016.
Pork ad volume tops the list of features this week, with 27.3% of total protein volume. Rib features are increasing seasonally and back ribs are on feature for an average $3.58 per lb. this week, which is down 15% from year ago. Bacon is also gaining ground on retail charts this week, accounting for nearly 30% of total pork ads. Brand label bacon is on sale for $4.77 per lb. on average.
Finally, chicken ads claim 14.5% of protein ad space this week, with boneless skinless breasts, drumstick, and thigh ads increasing in volume from the previous week while wings were scaled back. Boneless skinless breasts are on feature for an average $3.68 per lb., six cents per lb. above this time last year and notably higher than 80% lean ground beef. Feature drumsticks prices average $1.64 per lb., also slightly higher than year ago. Thighs, at $1.57 per lb. are on par with this week in 2015.
To view this week’s feature activity along with historical retail charts, subscribers can access the complete breakdown for the various meat and poultry cuts by clicking on the Retail Features option under the ‘More’ tab on the Comtell homepage, or click here for Urner Barry’s Weekly Summary.