Home Wine Business Editorial Pandemic Alcohol Stock-Up Skews Toward Wine

Pandemic Alcohol Stock-Up Skews Toward Wine


nielsenConsumers have been stocking up in preparation for an extended COVID-19 pandemic and sheltering in place. Most of the purchases have of course been focused on perishables and toilet paper, but alcoholic beverages have also seen a significant lift with wine shaping up to be a preferred beverage for isolation.

Nielsen’s total U.S. off-premise sales for wine grew +27.6%, spirits +26.4% and beer/flavored malt beverages/cider +14% in the week ending March 14, 2020 vs. the same week one year ago. Though wine is only growing slightly more than spirits, these numbers are a remarkable turn compared to the trends.

For the 13-week time period ending January 25, the beer/flavored malt beverage/cider category was growing at +5%, wine was nearly flat at +0.6% and spirits grew at +3.8%.

“While Beverage Alcohol categories are all experiencing double digit growth, they lag growth rates for total consumer goods,” says Danelle Kosmal, our VP of Beverage Alcohol at Nielsen. “For the week ending March 14, when many consumers were stocking up on perishables, cleaning products and toilet paper, total consumer goods grew by 40% in Nielsen all U.S. outlet channels. To me, this is an indication that Beverage Alcohol is important to consumers, but other consumer goods categories are being prioritized, at least for now. As more and more on-premise locations close, I think we will continue to see off-premise sales for beer, wine and spirits grow even more, and closing the gap with other consumer goods.”

Though all price tiers and package sizes saw growth a few outperformed the pack. The price segment that did best was $11-$25 on an equivalent 750 ml.

In the theme of stocking up, large pack sizes performed exceedingly well with 3L boxed wine growing +53% and 24-packs of beer at +24%. Even the 1.5L glass segment that had been in decline saw gains of almost +20% in this single week vs. the same period one year ago. Canned wines, which was already performing well, grew by +95%.

Though it remains to be seen how alcoholic beverages sales perform through an extended pandemic shutdown, at least these are good early signs for wine.

By Kim Badenfort

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