Off-trade beer sales over the four-week lockdown period eclipsed the four-weeks of Christmas 2019 by a whopping £57 million. 

The latest Nielsen data for the total off-trade (including impulse) shows beer sales for the four weeks to April 11, 2020 – spanning the period since lockdown was announced – equated to £472 million, compared with £415 million for the four weeks to December 28, 2019, historically one of the key sales periods for beer. 

Weekly beer sales were substantially higher than the same period in 2019 for each of the four weeks since lockdown was announced, with the week ending April 11 (over the Easter bank holiday weekend) showing an increase of 70% to £138 million, which was bigger than any week in 2019. Cider sales over the 2020 bank holiday Easter weekend increased by 89%.

Meanwhile, the biggest sales week for beer over Christmas 2019 was the week ending December 21, 2019, but this only reached a total of £119 million. 

Gemma Cooper, senior commercial business partner and Drinks Retailing columnist, said: “It is no surprise as we headed into the Easter weekend that sales across the off-trade recorded some of the highest ever seen since the start of the pandemic. Regardless of Covid-19, it must be remembered that Easter 2019 was two weeks later (April 21) and so some of the growth could be attributed to phasing.

“Beer and Cider were big winners seeing their highest growth since the start of the Covid-19 period. In the latest four weeks of data, the four weeks since lockdown were announced, beer sales are bigger than the four weeks of Christmas (the week ending December 28, 2019)!

“Beer is clearly resonating well with shoppers during the lockdown. Other drinks proving popular are Flavoured Gin and Flavoured/ Spiced Rum, as they continue to be the strongest performing in the off-trade since the Covid-19 period began at the start of February.

“Are shoppers looking to bring the on-trade experience into the home with these ever-popular choices?”