Gin and fruit cider join ONS inflation basket

14 March, 2017

The soaring popularity of gin and fruit cider has been cemented as the Office for National Statistics including the drinks in the virtual basket it uses to measure inflation.

Recent additions have included craft beer and e-cigarettes, and it is a symbolic moment for gin, which has gone from mother’s ruin to the UK’s trendiest drink over the past five years.

Sales are soaring: off-trade value sales are up 13% and on-trade sales have grown 19% (Nielsen and CGA, year to October 2016). In the 12 weeks to December 31, 2016, an extra 300,000 shoppers bought into the gin category (Nielsen) compared to the previous year.

The average bottle price is rising and almost all gins, from mass-market brands to the wonderful array of craft gins being launched, are showing great growth, and it only looks set to continue, while tonic sales are also growing rapidly in conjunction with it.

Fruit cider is another star performer in the drinks trade, with sales going through the roof while apple and pear cider dwindle.

Out go spirit-based drinks from the basket, while bottles of apple cider have been replaced by cans. Also in are flavoured water, non-dairy milk, bicycle helmets and other items considered essential to UK shoppers in 2017.

Phil Gooding, senior statistician at the ONS, said: “The annual basket review enables us to keep up to date with all the latest trends, ensuring our inflation measures reflect the changing costs experienced by consumers.”

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association hailed the return to the basket of gin following a 13-year absence as proof of “British people’s love of gin”.

Chief executive Miles Beale said: “2016 became known as the year of gin and we have seen the quintessentially British spirit continue to fly off the supermarket shelves.

“It comes as no surprise to us that gin has become a regular feature on the UK shopping list and made it into the ONS typical basket. Last year gin sales both home and abroad smashed all records.

“We broke the £1 billion mark for the first time for sales in the UK and sold more British gin overseas than ever before, worth almost half a billion pounds.”

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Lifting the spirits

I were to sum up alcohol sales over Christmas 2017 in one word, it would be “gin”. At Nielsen, we define the Christmas period as the 12 weeks to December 30 and in that time gin sales were £199.4 million, which means they increased by £55.4 million compared with Christmas 2016. There’s no sign the bubble is about to burst either. Growth at Christmas 2016 was £22.4 million, so gin has increased its value growth nearly two-and-a-half times in a year. The spirit added more value to
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