Champagne was the star category in the off-trade over the Christmas and New Year period, latest Nielsen stats show.

Sales were up 42% in the week to Boxing Day – compared with the corresponding week in 2019 – and 55% in the week to January 2.

The combined sales of other sparkling wines were ahead by 20% in the week to December 26 and 15% the following week.

The surge by Champagne was its best performance since the start of the pandemic, in the early days of which it was one of the more sluggish performers in a booming off-trade BWS market.

Total off-trade BWS sales show a late shopping rush for alcohol ahead of Christmas. Sales were up 31% in the week to December 26, following a rise of just 8% in the week to December 19.

Off-trade BWS sales growth slowed again in the week to January 2 to 17% ahead of the same week in 2019.

Aside from Champagne, spirits was the only major category to outperform the take-home drinks market, with sales up 38% in Christmas week and 21% between Christmas and New Year.

Other major category performances for the weeks to December 26 and January 2 respectively were +28% and +17% for beer, +27% and +10% for wine, and +22% and +10% for cider.

Nielsen said that impulse retailers saw the best overall BWS growth in the week to January 2, with sales up 25%, compared to 15% for grocery multiples.

Among the best performing categories in that week were flavoured vodka (+84%), cream liqueurs (+71%), flavoured and spiced rum (+48%) and stout (+47%).