The national average specialty dessert contribution to the total in-store bakery was 0.9 percent in the 52 weeks ending Aug. 29, 2009, remaining flat from the previous year. Nationally, specialty desserts averaged $89 per store per week, an 8 percent increase from the previous year.
Specialty desserts are part of the dessert super-category, which includes cakes, brownies and dessert bars, cookies and pies. The specialty desserts category includes éclairs, cream puffs, cannoli, fudge, dipped or covered fruits, cobblers or crisps, custards or puddings, napoleons, dumplings, baklava, assorted or variety dessert trays and trifles.
The category saw its highest sales nationally the week of Feb. 14, Valentine's Day, with $183 per store per week and 10.4 percent growth from the previous year. Traditionally popular items for the holiday include flowers and candies, but bakery treats held a stronger than usual presence with consumers in 2009. The largest selling specialty dessert subcategory during the week of Valentine's Day was dipped or covered fruits, which increased 30.3 percent compared to the previous period.
Another significant peak week for specialty desserts was the week of Dec. 27, 2009, when specialty desserts averaged dollar sales of $164 per week per store, representing a 12.8 percent growth compared to the previous year.
The unusual popularity of specialty desserts on special occasion weeks in 2009 reflects bakery's status as an affordable luxury. Big ticket items, such as weekends away for Valentine's Day or big screen TVs for Christmas, might have been out, but specialty desserts were in. The category accounted for the lowest average sales during the summer and early fall months, prior to the holiday season.
Within specialty desserts, éclairs accounted for 36.8 percent of category sales nationally, followed by cream puffs at 12.5 percent. Other subcategory contributions included cannoli (11.7 percent), miscellaneous desserts (10.6 percent), fudge (9.2 percent), dipped or covered fruits (6.4 percent), cobblers or crisps (4.1 percent), custards or puddings (2.8 percent), napoleons (1.7 percent), dumplings (1.6 percent), baklava (1.3 percent), assorted or variety dessert trays (0.8 percent) and trifles (0.5 percent).
Compared to the previous year, average specialty desserts weekly category dollar sales grew in all regions except the South region. The East region had the highest average dollar sales with $136 per store per week, well above the national average. The South region also surpassed the national average with $89 in weekly sales per store and a contribution to department of 1.2 percent, unchanged from the previous year. Despite showing the largest contribution to the department, the South region was the only region with decreased sales, down 1.2 percent.
The category showed the most significant gains in total bakery contribution in the West, jumping from 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent of total bakery sales. Traditionally the most health conscious of regions, the West's newfound affinity for specialty desserts is notable. It also may be economy-related, as consumers in depressed economic conditions turn to comfort foods and use indulgent food as a substitute for other high-end consumer items. Adherence to healthful lifestyle often lags during times of economic stress, as well.
Of the top three contributors to the category, éclairs had the most impressive positive trends. Éclairs had growth in all regions ranging from 32.9 percent in the West region to 7.7 percent in the East. The growth of éclairs may mirror consumer shopping trends of increased at-home entertaining.
This sales review, provided by the Perishables Group FreshFacts® powered by Nielsen, includes supermarket in-store bakery scanner data results from the 52 weeks ending Aug. 29, 2009, representing more than 62 percent of the national supermarket ACV share. For more information, contact the Perishables Group's Kelli Beckel by phone: 773/929-7013, or e-mail: KelliB@perishablesgroup.com.