Take-home alcohol sales accelerated again in late July to the levels seen just before the on-trade reopened, with Champagne and sparkling wine outperforming the rest of BWS for the first time since lockdown began.

Total take-home BWS sales rose 27% in the week to August 1, an increase from 14% in the previous week, according to new Nielsen figures.

The late July surge compared with growth of 26% in the week to July 4, the day that the on-trade officially reopened for business. Overall BWS growth since on-trade reopening stands at 23%.

Champagne was the fastest-growing category in the week to August 1, up 38%, with other sparkling wine ahead by 28%.

Beer was also outpacing market growth with a sales increase of 32% and there was strong growth across the board with cider up 26%, spirits 25% and wine 24%.

But Champagne remains the only off-trade drinks category in deficit for the whole period since Covid-19 began – measured by Nielsen from February 1 – with sales down 5% on the same period in 2019.

Gemma Cooper, Nielsen senior commercial business partner, said: “Off-trade growth accelerated again to 27% as the weather improved.

“This is the highest growth over the past five weeks. 

“For the first time since lockdown we see Champagne and sparkling wine growing ahead of total BWS.

“Brits are still spending more in the off-trade versus last year. An additional £406 million has been spent in the off-trade, with 62% [of that] from beer and wine.

“Some shoppers are still cautious to visit the on-trade and, factoring in the hot weather we have had, the off-trade still remains a growing category and an important one for retailers.”