Grocery executives polled by SN generally confirmed industry figures, released earlier this month, that aggressive price promotions helped buoy by 18% holiday consumer purchases of 35 mm film rolls over the prior year.
"Our fourth-quarter Kodak and Fuji film sales overall were up higher than last year, but we did a lot more advertising during the last quarter than in the past, said Tom Shively, head general merchandise buyer at Supervalu's Northeast General Merchandise Division, Easton, Pa.
Ray Wallace, director of nonfood, Cub Foods Georgia Division, Lithia Springs, Ga., reported "a little boost" during the holiday period. "In our case, we don't go with the multipacks very often. Most of our film sales are in single rolls," he said.
The surge in unit sales for food, drug and mass merchants came at a time when film purchases typically climb. The lift in unit movement, however, compared to around 5% posted in previous holiday periods. Kodak's domestic unit sales rose by only 2% in the third quarter.
Based on scanning data analysis, Kodak's unit sales for the four weeks ended Dec. 26 soared 27%, while Fuji's sales were up 12.5%. The gains came at the expense of private-label film whose sales fell about 20%, according to the data.
Kodak's share of the U.S. market in 35 mm film was up about 5.1% to 70.3% in the four-week period at stores tracked, while Fuji's share was down slightly to 19.2%. Private label's share dipped about three percentage points to 5.8%.
To spur fourth-quarter holiday volume when 34% of film is bought and 30% of film developing is done, Kodak in October and November mounted aggressive fourth-quarter film, photo-finishing and camera promotions with 50-cents-off coupons for single rolls and $2-off coupons for a four-roll multipack.
"Film is highly retail-sensitive and competitive, with margins nonexistent," said Wallace. "If anything, our retails went down for the whole year and film pricing generally has been a battleground."
The manufacturer boosted film exposure at store level with a $4 on-pack coupon in its film multipacks good toward either Kodak premium processing or retailer finishing.
"While our costs haven't gone down, we started selling more value packs. Kodak was promoting more value packs so I would think unit sales should have gone up for them. And we sold more film there [in that pack format]," said Shively.
"In the past year with all the changes at Kodak, with its cutbacks and reassignments as it downsized, last year was really in limbo because nobody was calling on us. But we ended up the year ahead, so we feel pretty good about [Kodak]," said Shively.