Unless otherwise noted, all trends below are for Nielsen off premise channels for the week ending 9/05/20 compared to the same week in 2019. We continue to remind our readers that we measure sales in specific off premise channels, and that the impact of the health crisis on sales is uneven across companies in the alcohol industry.
For the week ending 9/05/20, leading into Labor Day, total fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) dollar sales were up +6.5% compared to the same week last year. Off premise alcohol fared a bit better, up 17.5% compared to last year, driven by both the Labor Day holiday and the ongoing shift in sales from on premise to off premise. Spirits again was the growth leader, up 33.4% in off premise, followed by wine +17.9%, and finally beer/FMB/cider +12.2%. Core beer excluding FMBs/seltzers was up 6.8%. Given that Labor Day is one of the biggest beer holidays, we would have expected sales to be higher.
Within the average U.S. on premise outlet, sales increased +240% for the week ending September 5, 2020 vs March 28, when the on premise shutdown commenced. Week on week velocity has grown +2% September 5 vs August 29 across the U.S. Of the 5 states analyzed, none experienced decline in value velocity for the latest week vs prior week. New York (State), California, Texas and Florida all experience single digit week on week growth with Illinois velocity flat. Houston is the best performing city with velocity up +16% vs previous week.
Beer/FMB/cider surpassed sales of $1 billion in Nielsen off premise channels for the week ending 9/05/20, which included the Saturday leading up to Labor Day.
Hard seltzers faced very tough comps, as the segment finished out the 2019 summer with very strong Labor Day sales last year. Despite the tough comps, hard seltzers maintained strong performance and were just shy of triple digit growth, up 99% for the week ending 9/05/20 compared to the same week last year in Nielsen off premise sales. Hard seltzers accounted for 46% of total beer/FMB/cider category growth, and 10.0% of category dollars. Hard seltzer dollar share is up 4.4 share points from Labor Day last year, but down slightly from most weeks throughout summer 2020.
After seltzers, the next strongest growth driver for the category, in terms of actual dollar growth, was Mexican imports, which were up 8.7% in off premise dollars and contributed to 11.5% of category growth. Super premium (+14.9%) contributed to 11% of growth, and crafts had a relatively strong week, up 10% in off premise dollar sales, and contributing to 10% of category growth.
PACK SIZE: In wine and spirits, smaller sizes have returned to pre-COVID norms, and are in some cases even surpassing growth rates of pre-COVID time periods. That trend is quite different in beer, where large packs continue to experience the strongest growth rates. For the latest week in off premise, 30 packs were up 16.7%, 24 packs were up 22.8%, and 12 packs were up 24.1% — all outpacing growth of 6 packs which were up only 2.5%. Compared to pre-COVID time periods, 12 packs and 24 packs continue to gain share, while 6 packs and singles lose share.
CHANNELS: This week liquor channel (+31%) and c-store (+17.7%) far outpaced growth of beer/FMB/cider in the grocery channel (+3.4%)
PRICING: Average case price for Beer/FMB/cider in Nielsen off premise channels was $25.56, which was up 2.6% compared to the same week last year. Craft beer average case price was down 1.1%, and hard seltzer average case price was down 10.1% compared to last year.
BRANDS: Top 5 growth drivers for the category were…
Total spirits off premise growth for the week ending 9/05/20 was 33.4% compared to the same week last year. Tequila was one of the strongest growth drivers, up 62.8%. As in previous weeks, other growth drivers for the category included cognac (+66%), ready-to-drink cocktails (+143%), prepared cocktails (+49.4%), cordials (+38.9%), and American whiskey (+36.1%). Nearly every category in spirits grew double digits for the latest week compared to last year. So which categories are gaining share and by how much? Tequila grew 2.1 shared points compared to the same week last year. Cognac is up 1.1 share points, ready-to-drink is up 0.9 share points, and Cordials and American whiskey are up slightly, each by 0.3 share points.
Below are the top growth brands for the week. They accounted for close to ¼ of total spirits growth dollars in off premise.
For the week ending 9/05/20, total wine was up 17.9% in off premise channels compared to the same week last year. Table wine dollars grew by 14.0%, outpaced again by sparkling wine which was up 33.3%. French champagne had its strongest week this year, up 87.9% and up a complete share point compared to the same week last year. Wine-based cocktails, while still small and accounting for less than 2% of total wine dollars, grew by 105% for the latest week in off premise dollars.
Across varietals, rosé (+26.6%) and sauvignon blanc (25.4%) were growth leaders for off premise dollars for the week leading up to Labor Day. Sauvignon blanc gained 0.4 share points compared to the same week last year. Other growth winners included pinot noir (+18.7%), cabernet sauvignon (+15.9%), and white and red blends (+17.2% and +16.8% respectively).
Overview: Nielsen COVID-19 insights and analysis
- Nielsen.com: COVID-19: Tracking the Impact on FMCG, Retail and Media
- Nielsen.com: How Americans are Shopping During COVID-19
- Nielsen.com: Scenarios Beyond COVID-19: Rebound, Reboot, Reinvent
- Nielsen.com: Rebalancing the ‘COVID-19 Effect’ on Alcohol Sales
- Nielsen CGA: COVID-19: Measuring the On Premise Impact