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Spirits maintain growth rates in US off-trade

Sales of spirits continued to outperform wine and beer in the US off-trade in the week ending 18 July 2020, according to Nielsen data.

Tequila is one of the main growth drivers for spirits in the US off-trade

For the one-week period ending 18 July, spirits sales in the US off-trade grew 29.3%, while wine increased by 19.7% and beer, flavoured malt beverages (FMB) and cider, rose by 15.4%.

Danelle Kosmal, vice-president of beverage alcohol at Nielsen, said: “While growth rates have ebbed for all three categories, coinciding with on-premise reopening to varying extents, spirits has clung on to its earlier growth better than either beer or wine, while the latter’s growth has decelerated the most. That may be attributed to some business moving back to the more wine-friendly restaurant environment, which is less impacted by new closures than bars.

“Looking at just those more recent growth rates may be a better indication of what we’ll potentially see through the end of the summer, and maybe even into the fall, as consumers settle into their new normal.”

Nielsen said spirits’ growth continues to surpass other alcohol categories by a wide margin and continues to take share from the total alcohol category. The analyst compared growth rates between the restricted Covid-19 period (first week of March until the end of May) and the reopening period (week ending 6 June until week ending 18 July). Nielsen found that the growth of American whiskey, cordials, gin, rum and vodka slowed much faster than the total spirits category.

Meanwhile, the segments that grew as the US moved into the reopening period were Cognac, Scotch and Japanese whisky.

The two main growth drivers for spirits in the off-trade were ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails and Tequila. Nielsen noted that RTD cocktails grew 89% in the first three months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. Over the last seven weeks, the category increased by 81%. Canned offerings now represent around a third of the RTD category over the last 52 weeks, Nielsen found, with the segment recording triple-digit growth. Tequila rose by more than 67% during both periods.

From the first week of March (restricted Covid-19 period) until the week ending 18 July, spirits grew 34.7%, wine was up 27% and beer, FMB and cider increased by 19.8%.

Within the beer, FMB and cider category, hard seltzers continued to witness “phenomenal” growth rates, Nielsen said, particularly when compared to the “summer of seltzers” in 2019. During the seven-day period ending 18 July, hard seltzers grew 142% compared to the same week last year.

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