Good Weather, Olympics Boost Demand For Alcohol

Alcohol sales at UK grocery retailers rose strongly over the latest four weeks, according to Nielsen retail performance data.

For the four weeks to 13 August, overall Beer & Cider volumes were up 4.7% year-on-year while value sales were up even more at +6.9% to more than £27m.

Ale posted a very strong performance over the period, up 4.2% in volume, just behind Lager (+4.3%). However, the strongest performance came from Cider, which saw volumes grow 6.2% and value rise by 8.4%.

Jon Sheppard, Nielsen’s client business partner, noted: “What’s encouraging to see is that this has helped boost overall 52 week performance – with Lager now growing over the year – value ahead of volume (+1.2% and +1.1% respectively). Furthermore, this is also helping to recover some of the Cider declines we’ve seen of late with the yearly level of volume drop halved due to just these four weeks.”

Sheppard added: “20 out of the top 30 brands grew faster than their yearly average and whilst this growth was driven by the Grocery Multiples, Impulse retailers saw the 4 weeks sales in the black vs last year, after a generally torrid year for the channel.”

This four-week period added £2.8m more than the four weeks leading up to the Euro Football Championships, primarily due to the additional cider sales (Lager and Ale uplifts were very comparable across the periods). Sheppard noted that this was “the strongest four weeks sales rise in the summer (that wasn’t football related) since the now fabled heatwave of July 2013 when volume sales rose by 27%.”

Outside of Beer & Cider, Champagne saw sales rise by +4.9% in value terms (faster than the 52 weeks), and Sparkling Wine continued its double-digit growth with value up 13.9%.  Light Wine and Spirits both suffered, but Soft Drinks (including Water) was up +8.9% in volume terms with Water accounting for more than half of that growth – volumes were up a whopping +19%.