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US spirits sales drop 3.3% in on-trade

Spirits sales fell by 3.3% in the US on-trade in the year to 9 September 2023, with gin being the only category that grew.

Gin glasses
Gin was the only spirit category to grow in the US on-trade over the past year

The latest CGA by NIQ’s On Premise Measurement (OPM) Impact Report looked at spirits sales by volume and value in the 52 weeks to 9 September.

By category, gin was the only spirit to increase in volume sales over the year-long period.

The three biggest spirits categories in the US on-trade all declined, with whisky falling by 2.7%, Tequila dipping by 0.8% and vodka dropping by 3.4%.

The report noted that prices of 1.5-ounce (44ml) measures of spirits rose by an average of 4.8% over the 12-month period – an increase of 1.4% in value.

CGA said price increases may have lowered the number of visits and purchases of drinkers this year. The frequency of consumers visiting the on-trade at least three times in the previous three-month period dropped from 81% in May to 79% in October.

Value (under US$12.99) and mid-range (US$13-US$19.99) spirits recorded the biggest sales drops by volume over the last year, decreasing by 8.6% and 6.4% respectively.

However, sales of premium (US$20-US$34.99) and super-premium (US$53-US$49.99) spirits both fell by less than 1%, while the ultra-premium category (US$50 and above) climbed by 3.5%.

CGA said certain states had recorded year-on-year volume growth for spirits, including New York (up by 3.9%) and Illinois (up 2.8%).

But volumes fell in most regions, including key states such as California (down by 1.6%) and Texas (down by 6.9%).

Matthew Compton, CGA by NIQ’s regional director – North America, said: “With consumers’ spending under pressure, it’s no surprise to see a small drop in sales volumes over the last 12 months, with middle price tier brands feeling the squeeze as many guests sensitive to price may be reducing their purchases or trading down.

“However, some categories and states continue to perform well, and solid figures at the top end of the market show some consumers remain very happy to pay for quality.”

Data from CGA by NIQ in August showed that while the price of spirits has increased due to global inflation, consumers are more willing to purchase higher-end products.

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