With the cake category representing the highest percentage of sales for supermarket in-store bakeries, in-stores continue to segment the category with new varieties for any occasion. Strong decorated cake, cupcake and dessert cake sales in particular helped boost total cake category sales last year, according to a report by the Perishables Group, a market research firm based in West Dundee, Ill.
Cake sales accounted for an average of 27.8 percent of bakery department dollar sales (per week per store) during the 52 weeks ending Sept. 30, 2006, up from 27.1 percent during the same time period the previous year. Additionally, cake dollar sales were up 12.5 percent over the previous year and averaged $2,277 per week per store. The Perishables Group tracks in-store bakery sales data from more than 16,000 stores nationwide through its FreshFacts® powered by AC Nielsen. The latest report represents sales figures during the 52 weeks ending Sept. 30, 2006.
The third week in May registered as the top week for cake sales last year, averaging $2,989 per week per store. Ken Downey, bakery sales manager for Parsippany, N.J.-based Kings Super Markets, agreed. His top decorated cake selling season occurred May through June last year because customers purchased custom decorated cakes for graduations, communions and confirmations.
Nationally, the week after Thanksgiving 2005 reported the lowest sales for the cake category, averaging only $1,607 per week per store. The drop in cake sales after Thanksgiving can be attributed to holiday leftovers and competition from pies as consumers’ preferred dessert.
Upscale cake varieties, cupcakes and single-serve portions were among the standouts within the cake category that contributed to total cake sales. Dessert cakes represented the second highest subcategory with 14.2 percent share of total cake category sales. 2006 was the year of the cupcake with the portable treat’s sales booming for both independent retail bakeries and supermarket in-stores. "Cupcakes are selling big time," Downey said. "We started a new program last year that is doing really well." Kings’ cupcake sales increased primarily as children returned to school and during Christmas time for school parties. Valentine’s Day also is a hot time for cupcakes nationally, according to the Perishables Group, which reports that cupcake sales averaged a whopping $539 per week per store during the holiday week, compared to the annual average of $179 per week.
While individual dessert cakes only represented 4.7 percent of cake category sales according to the Perishables Group, that percentage is a significant number and represents consumer demand for smaller portion sizes and potential for greater every-day cake sales. Ron Mael, bakery merchandiser, Rosauers Super Markets, Spokane, Wash. said his individual-sized cake sales were up last year because the smaller portions appeal to older clientele with smaller households.