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US off-trade sees 55% boost in alcohol sales in one week

The sales growth of alcohol in the US off-trade nearly doubled last week, rising 55% in the week ending March 21, compared to the previous year, on strong double digit growth the previous week, as online sales grew 243%.

Red sign hanging at the glass door of a shop saying “Closed due to coronavirus”.

Nielsen data for the week showed the significant increases versus the previous week ending 14 March, with wine sales up 66% and wines in the $11-$25 price bracket seeing growth of 82%.

Beer, cider and flavored malt beverages (ie alcopops) rose 42%, although excluding alcopops and cider, beer sales alone rose 34% compared to the same period last week. Larger beer packs continued to oupace smaller ones, as consumers stocked up for the lockdowns, with sales of 24-packs up 90% and 30-packs up 87%. However all larger formats saw growth, with , 12-packs sales up 61% and 6-packs were up 16%.

Danny Brager, Nielsen’s senior vice president of beverage alcohol at Nielsen said unsurprisingly, online growth rates for alcohol are ahead of in-store sales growth, quoting Nielsen US’s Nielsen E-commerce measurement powered by Rakuten Intelligence.

“Online measured increases were out of the park – up 243% vs the same period of a year ago,” he said.

Wine dominated online booze sales, accounting for around 71% of total alcohol sales, but spirits, which account for 20% of onlines sales, grew faster than both beer and wine, boosting its shae of online alcohol sales by 4 percentage point, in the current environment versus. the latest 52-week trend.

Meanwhile as reported by the drinks business, bricks and mortar liquor stores saw spirits growth of 75%, with RTD cocktails up 106%, gin up 89% and tequila rising 90%. 

Nielsen’s VP of beverage alcohol Danelle Kosmal said the past week was likely to be the peak of “consumer pantry-loading time.”

“I suspect that the week ending March 21st will feature the strongest growth rates that we will see during this consumer pantry-loading time,” he said. “Data for the week ending 28 March will be very telling, and I think it will be a better indicator of the new normal in how consumers are responding to the crisis and their new normal, centered around the home.”

Meanwhile a San Francisco company that produces smartphone-connected breathalyzer devices has said that consumers in the Bay Area are increasing around 42% more alcohol in the lockdown than before, the San Francisco Chronicle has reported.

BACtrack CEO Keith Nothacker said the data backed up anecdotal evidence that people were drinking more in the lockdown.

“We said, let’s go check the data. Sure enough, drinking had exploded post-shelter-in-place,” he told the publication.

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