BWS grew off-trade sales by 4.4% in the past year to reach £16.1 billion and cement its status as the bestselling FMCG category in the UK.

Market analyst IRI, which crunched the numbers, credited the role of innovation in the alcoholic drinks sector and a reduction in promotions with driving the strong performance.

The alcohol category outsold its nearest rival, ambient food, by £660 million, while chilled and fresh food was third, with £13.5 billion in value sales.

Off-trade BWS sales grew more impressively in the UK than in any other country in Europe. Beer enjoyed 6% growth, sparkling wine shot up 10% and spirits were up 5%, driven by gin, which grew 24%.

“Reduced levels of trade promotions, coupled with shallower price cuts, have played a part in bolstering topline macro category performances in the UK, alcohol included,” said Olly Abotorabi, senior regional insights manager at IRI.

“It’s no surprise that we’ve seen strong growth in this category, and particularly in beer, where brands are moving towards premiumisation, delivering innovation via new flavours, and offering beers and ciders with crafty credentials.

“In spirits, gin is also proving popular, driven by a growing number of small and niche batch distillers, celebrity culture and enhanced in-store exposure via displays during key seasonal events.

“But price increases have hit home with UK consumers who are being much more selective in what they buy and where they shop.”