Alcohol sales soar off back of hot weather and Olympics, Nielsen reports

Alcohol sales at UK grocery retailers were hugely impressive over the latest four weeks, according to Nielsen retail performance data.
The four-week period ending 13 August 2016 saw overall Beer & Cider volumes rise by +4.7% vs. the same period in 2015, whilst value sales were up even more at +6.9%. That’s over £27m spent or the equivalent of over 15 million more pints.

“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),”  says Jon Sheppard, Nielsen’s client business partner. “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.”

Ale also posted a very strong performance over the four weeks, at +4.2% in volume, just behind Lager, which rose by +4.3%. However, July and August heat belonged to Cider which saw an impressive +6.2% volume uplift with value growth at +8.4%.

“It’s safe to say that both retailers and brewers alike will be pleased with this recent sales performance,” notes Sheppard. “Twenty 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 even added £2.8 million 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 says: “In fact, 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% vs last year. 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%.

Sheppard concludes: “With the recent good spell of weather set to continue into next weekend, consumer confidence flat and the country’s mood boosted by Team GB’s success in Rio: the summer certainly isn’t over and these sales could rise even further. This would be a welcome boost, after an early summer tainted by a rainy June and England’s early departure from Euro 2016.”