Stockpiling drives US alcohol sales up 40%

1st April, 2020 by Owen Bellwood

Alcohol sales in the US increased by 40% in the week ending 22 March, boosted by demand for larger formats and low-priced products as consumers stocked up amid the coronavirus outbreak.

US alcohol sales increased by 40% in volume up to 22 March

Figures released by data analyst IWSR found that for the week ending 22 March total beverage alcohol sales grew by 40% in value and 33% in volume compared to the same period in 2019.

Sales were also up on the week ending 15 March and showed a mix of increased purchase in both value and premium brands across categories.

“As consumer panic leads to stockpile buying, and as consumers indulge in crisis comfort buying, we expect beverage alcohol sales to continue to increase in the short-term, notes Brandy Rand, chief operating officer of the Americas at the IWSR.

“Short-term stockpiling will likely lead to a lag in sales in the medium-term. We expect overall sales to regulate over the coming months, with long-term forecasts predicated on covid-19 mitigation and the re-opening of the US economy.”

The figures cited indicated a jump in large format wine and spirit sales in the US during the period. Spirits available in 1 litre, 1.5 litre and 1.75 litre formats outpaced smaller variants and IWSR noted that “larger size formats and value brands tend to benefit from panic buying as people look to stock their home as much as possible in light of the lockdown”.

Rand added: “During uncertain times, comfort purchasing tends to drive the consumption of standard or premium brands that people already know, especially ones they’ve consumed in the on-premise.”

According to IWSR, whiskey brands including Wild Turkey, Crown Royal, Jack Daniel’s, Bulleit and Maker’s Mark have seen increased purchasing, as has “mixable-friendly” vodka.

IWSR noted that alcohol sales remain healthy across all price segments in the US and said the “recent sales surge will likely regulate, as the country navigates through covid-19, [and the] on-premise slowly reopens”.

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