Westons Cider has launched a special Covid-19 edition of its annual Cider Report and it said the research shows the cider category has proven itself “remarkably resilient”.

The report, which tracks the category from April to September and follows the release of its 2020 Cider Report, published in March, shows that within the off-trade the convenience and e-commerce channels have grown substantially.

In total grocery, 57% of shoppers are continuing to make fewer trips to supermarkets but spending more per trip when they go, and 20% of shoppers are not only spending more per trip, but also making more trips to store so their overall spend has increased. As a result, bigger formats have performed strongly, overall, up 10% from last year with ten-packs experiencing a 34% increase in growth.

Tim Williams, insight and innovation manager at Westons Cider, said: “This has been an extraordinarily challenging period for both retailers and operators, however our report shows that cider has once again shown itself to be dynamic and in demand, with premiumisation continuing to drive category growth.

“Recent months have been particularly promising for crafted cider (up 38.8% year-on-year), now the fastest growing sector in the total grocery market and convenience channels.

“Even more encouragingly, research commissioned by Westons for the report reveals that the breadth of cider drinkers continues to widen. All these factors are clearly good news for the category’s long-term prospects.”

Emily Jenkins, Category Manager at Westons Cider, said: “There have been some clear changes to shopper behaviour as consumers adapt and, as part of this, convenience stores have become even more integral to British society. For the cider category specifically, convenience spend was up 33% and online up 101% and, in all cases, new shoppers were the main driver.

“That said, convenience still only accounts for 17.7% of total cider spend compared to supermarkets which account for 56.7% of cider sales. Retailers should take note of these changing consumer habits and ensure they are stocking larger formats alongside bestsellers such as Henry Westons – worth £51.4m in total retail–to capitalise on the cider opportunity in the lead up to Christmas.

As figures in the report reveal cider value (+15.1%) has continued to grow ahead of volume (+12.6%), the Herefordshire cider maker predicts 2020 will be cider’s biggest ever Christmas in the channel.

Weston’s prediction comes as the government announced more stringent national lockdown measures, which research suggests will encourage shoppers to increase supermarket spending on a par with the levels we saw in May (+57%).

Jenkins said: “Naturally, Christmas was always going to look a little different this year as initial restrictions suggested more shoppers would opt for at-home celebrations with friends and family throughout December.

“Now, we’re facing tighter restrictions and in the midst of more severe social distancing measures across much of the UK, this Christmas is shaping up to be like none we’ve seen before. What we do know is that cider sales boomed during the first lockdown, with 841,470 more shoppers buying cider at home, so we can be pretty confident that cider will remain a mainstay on shopping lists as we enter the festive period.”