Off-trade BWS growth slows but still tops 30% – Nielsen

The pace of off-trade alcohol sales growth slowed in the second full week of May according to new Nielsen data.

But the continued closure of the on-trade means that growth was still running at 30% for total BWS in the week to May 16, compared to the same time last year.

The week ending May 9 had seen Nielsen previously report growth of 50%, a spike fuelled by the lead-up to the D-Day Bank Holiday.

Beer (+36%), spirits (+35%) and cider (+33) had the fastest growth in the week to May 16. Still wine was up 26% and sparkling wine rose 15%.

Champagne was the only loser, down 4% as shoppers sought cheaper alternatives in financially uncertain times.

Gemma Cooper, senior commercial business partner at Nielsen, said: “The-off trade is still showing growth, though a pattern seems to be emerging with one stronger week of sales followed by a slower week of growth.

“This could be due to a number of factors, most recently the early May Bank Holiday, though earlier weeks suggest an element of cupboard refilling could be taking place with shoppers choosing to replenish every other week as their drinks cabinets run low.

“Flavoured and spiced rum noted the fastest growth (+75%) but it was closely followed by flavoured gin (+71%) and flavoured vodka (70%).

“These offerings continue to prove a popular household choice during lockdown. We have seen some brands bring in new and exciting offerings keeping shoppers engaged, along with the longer-term favourites which are still regularly featured in shoppers’ baskets.

"With the next Bank Holiday not until August, and the weather hitting the low 20˚Cs, we can expect to see another strong week of growth in the off-trade in next week’s data, maybe even surpassing the early May Bank Holiday successes.”

Nielsen figures across the whole Covid-19 period – measured from the week ending February 2 until mid-May – put total BWS sales up 19% on last year with beer and cider both ahead by 27%.