September’s record-breaking temperatures have given the drinks sector a huge boost, pepping up a tough summer for sales.

New figures from Nielsen show an 8.5% uplift in value sales across the market for the four weeks to October 1 compared with the same period in 2010.

The biggest winners were long drinks, with beer and cider seeing the most significant spikes – up 13.6% and 22.4% in value respectively. Encouragingly, sales were supported by strong volume growths of 7.4% and 10.8%, demonstrating that shoppers were not just drawn in by deep discounts. 

Nielsen also said its data highlighted the fact that brewers’ strategy of decreasing the number of cans in multipacks had encouraged shoppers to buy more packs, rather than switching into another category – helping to inject vital value back into the market.

RTD sales surged by 13.9% in value and 5.3% in volume. Spirits saw value growth of 9% and volumes were up 1.8%.

Wine was less successful in capitalising on the soaring temperatures, recording a 4% value uplift but declining 2.7% by volume.

Nielsen client services manager Gavin Humphreys attributed wine’s poor performance compared with other categories to price hikes, which have made it more expensive than it was this time last year. 

He said: “Long drinks have fared much better and, although there was promotional activity, the uplift was definitely fuelled by the weather. Amid the economic woes, this is a welcome spike for sales, which have been tough this year.”

Nielsen’s latest MAT figures for 2011, to October 1, show the market growing at
4%. Beer was up just 1.9%, spirits 6.4% and wine 3%. 

Humphreys said: “Although the weather has delivered a short-term boost, impacting the latest four weeks, it is not enough to turn around the annual picture for the market.”