UK consumers favour rum during lockdown

26th October, 2020 by Nicola Carruthers

Alcohol sales in the UK fell 20% by volume in the three months to June 2020, but rum experienced a significant sales boost during lockdown, new data has shown.

The WSTA said rum’s performance was boosted by consumers’ love of cocktails

In the three-month period between April and June 2020, data from trade body the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) found that 38% more rum was sold than in the same period last year, equivalent to an extra 1.3 million bottles. Total rum sales were worth £119m (US$155m) in the quarter.

The biggest growth during the three months came from flavoured and spiced rums which jumped 53% by volume – equal to 3.4m bottles of the overall rum category. The subcategory outsold white rum for the first time, the WSTA noted.

Over the 12-month period to June 2020, rum grew 8% by volume and is now worth £430m (US$561m), placing it behind whisky, vodka and gin by value.

The WSTA said sales of gin in the off-trade grew 22% by volume and 27% by value, despite off-trade growth for the category slowing over recent months.

Total gin sales in the UK over the 12 months to June 2020 grew 15% to £1.1 billion (US$1.4bn).

The WSTA said the strong performance of rum and gin was due to consumers drinking more cocktails and exploring new flavours as the on-trade was forced to close during the coronavirus lockdown.

Off-trade alcohol sales rose 8% by volume in the year to June 2020, and grew 35% between April and June this year.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “Our latest numbers show that rum is lockdown’s champion, as the experimentation Brits liked to enjoy in pubs and bars carried over to their homes. However, this also underlines the importance of on-trade venues as the shop window for new innovations in the spirits category.

“With news just last week of further restrictions being placed on the hospitality sector, the climate for our distillers, many of whom are SMEs and have come to represent such a great British success story of recent years, continues to get tougher.”

The WSTA said last week that it welcomed further financial support for hospitality venues in tier two restrictions.

However, Beale said those who help the hospitality sector, including distillers, continue to be “overlooked” and “need access to the same levels of support”.

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