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SALES UPDATE FOR WEEK ENDING MAY 9TH



Once again here are the updated sales figures from Nielsen brought to you through a partnership with MHW


TOTAL BEVERAGE ALCOHOL Unless otherwise noted, all trends below are for Nielsen off premise channels for the week ending 5/9/20 compared to the same week in 2019. This was another big week for Alcohol sales in Nielsen measured off premise channels (+34.8% vs year ago). In fact, it represented the second biggest week of growth after that big pantry loading week we saw back in the third week of March.  Spirits led overall growth with a huge +48.5% increase in dollar sales vs year ago, followed by wine (+35.8%) and beer/FMB/cider at +29.3%. Of note, Cinco de Mayo related activity have contributed to increased off premise sales, with on premise activity largely moving to off premise, and year ago comparisons slightly misaligned since Cinco de Mayo fell on a Sunday last year, and many of the off premise sales for 2019 likely took place in the prior week.  In particular, Cinco de Mayo likely provided a boost to both the beer and spirits categories in off premise sales.  Next to hard seltzers, Mexican beer outpaced growth rates of all other beer segments, up 33.5% in dollars compared to the same week last year, and up nearly 3 share points compared to pre-COVID time periods.  Consumers were also finding ways to make and drink their Cinco margaritas at home, with ready-to-drink margaritas up 190%, tequila up 114%, and margarita mixers up 123% in off premise channels. While at this point several weeks into the crisis, sales increases in the off premise have translated into a shift to more drinking occasions in/around the home than prior. We also know from our pantry inventory survey that there continues to be some in-home pantry loading.  The amount of beer, wine, and spirits on hand in the home rose somewhat in early April compared to what would have typically been pre-COVID, before accelerating even more in late April/early May - led by hard seltzers. Total FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) growth rates have stabilized, trending at a similar pace over the past several weeks. For the week ending 5/9/20, total FMCG grew 15.5% in dollars compared to the same week last year. A reminder that Nielsen estimates that total alcohol needs to maintain at least 22% volume growth rates averagely in off premise channels in order to make up for the losses in the on premise.  As the on premise begins to emerge from lockdown and some consumption shifts back, that threshold number will change, but the shift is likely to be very slow, and extended over a long period of time both due to social distancing requirements and large variances in individual consumer confidence. COVID-19 period to date (since w/e March 7, 2020) volume % change vs year ago: Spirits: +32.9% Wine: +27.7% Beer/FMB/Cider: +17.0% Obviously, online sales activity has exploded - since the start of COVID, overall consumer packaged goods (CPG) online buyers have grown by 10 million people, and among those new online buyers, a significant percentage are returning as repeat buyers.  The expansion of online alcohol sales - on a much lower base - is even much larger, with wine commanding the biggest piece of online retailing, combined with its sizable and robust DtC shipment channel.  In looking ahead, we may see some slowdown in Alcohol growth in next week’s data (w/e May 16), but then sales leading up to Memorial Day weekend will be high, with the levels likely influenced by a combination of several factors - weather, consumer confidence in ‘celebrating’ via consumption at home/out of home, along with likely some, albeit limited, on premise consumption.   Another indication of consumers itching to get out and escape some of their “indoor fatigue” can be found in some other shopping dynamics across consumer packaged goods. For the week ending 5/2/20, outdoor categories drove substantial growth -  dollar sales for soil up 54%, fertilizer up 27%, and fire material & fuel up 66%.  This clearly is an indicator that consumers will be focusing on outdoor areas at home, which also presents some strong opportunities for backyard bbq occasions.  And brick & mortar store shopper penetration was higher than average for the first time in six weeks, driven by club and grocery channels. ON PREMISE A survey by Nielsen CGA conducted in mid-May in the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Texas (states on the ‘earlier’ side of easing on premise restrictions) indicated that 1 in 5 respondents from these states said they have been out to eat in bars and restaurants since re-openings, and 1 in 10 said they have been out  for a drink.  2 in 5 said that they were planning to go out to eat and drink the same or more often that pre-COVID. Velocity trends in restaurants are starting to increase moving into May as the lockdown is relaxed in several parts of the country.  While sales velocity is still -63% lower than the pre-COVID norm, week-on-week sales grew by +13% at a total U.S. level (w/e May 9, 2020 vs week prior), but with much higher growth rates in states that have opened up earlier - around +30% in each of Texas, Florida and Tennessee, with growth in Georgia not far behind at +23%. BEER/FMB/CIDER The week ending 5/9/20 was the second strongest individual week for off premise beer sales growth to date during COVID time periods, with Cinco de Mayo a likely contributor.  Beer/FMB/ciders accounted for $984 million in Nielsen off premise channels, surpassing the top pantry-loading week of 3/21/20 by $15 million. This week ranks #2 in total dollars sales for the past year, second only to the week of July 4th 2019.   Other key Off Premise trends for beer/FMB/ciders included: ● Hard seltzers once again led growth, up 334% compared to last year, but up only 2.2% compared to the prior week. Share is down slightly, dropping to 8.6% compared to 8.8% for the previous week. However, we would expect that to jump back up in the next week’s data. ● The super premium segment had a very strong week, up 32.7% in off premise channels, with Mich Ultra ranked as #1 growth brand among brand extensions. ● Beer excluding FMB/seltzer/cider was up 20.4%, with premium lights experiencing a strong week, up 16.3%. Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Lite were all among the top 10 growth brands for the category. Craft was up 23.7%, cider +18.6%, and budget +6.7%. Non-alcoholic beer had one of its strongest weeks, up 44.4%. ● The FMB segment (excluding seltzers) experienced its strongest week to date, with dollar growth of 32.8%. ● The convenience channel continues with double-digit growth up 24.6% compared to last year. However, it is down slightly in dollar volume compared to the previous week, which was the strongest week in c-store sales to date for COVID time periods. ● Large packs continue to outpace most other pack sizes, with 30 packs up 36.2% and 24 packs up 35%. Over the past few weeks, growth in 12 packs has surged, up 52% for the latest week compared to last year. A lot of this 12-pack growth is driven by hard seltzers. WINE Wine dollar sales in Nielsen measured off premise channels grew +35.8% in the most recent week vs year ago (similar to last week) - that’s now 5 weeks since the beginning of March with weekly sales growth above +30%.  Sparkling wine had a very strong week (+48.1%), with table wine well behind (+31.2%) but still strong. Consistent over the last three weeks, Wines (in glass) across all tiers $11+ ($11-$14.99; $15-$19.99, $20-$24.99, and $25+) are all growing faster than price tiers lower than that. That’s similar to the general direction we saw last year, just at much elevated growth levels since COVID.   Within, $20-$24.99 led the way. While the number of items sold in the beer category has dropped during COVID primarily from the long tail of the independent craft beer sector, the number of wine items selling in Nielsen measured off premise channels continues to remain firm - suggesting no large scale reduction of wine variety available to shoppers in stores to this point. Just released Direct to Consumer (DtC) wine shipment numbers for April 2020 from Nielsen’s partnership with Wines Vines Analytics in collaboration with Sovos ShipCompliant showed even larger increases than in March.   Volume grew year on year (+45%) in April 2020, but with a significantly smaller dollar increase (+15%), as the average price per bottle sold in this channel dropped from $42 last year at this time to $33 in the current month.  Within this measurement, Napa wines - the largest contributor to the DtC shipment channel - experienced the largest reduction in price. SPIRITS Spirit sales in Nielsen measured off premise channels grew +48.5%, more than 10 points ahead of wine category growth.    For the last 3 weeks, growth of 4 segments (and excluding Grain Alcohol) have consistently stood out ahead of others - ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, Tequila, Cordials, and Gin.  RTDs provide the convenience of a pre-mixed drink, and within similar to pre-COVID times, Cans are continuing to expand their presence and innovative combinations of flavors and Liquor types.  Tequilas, Cordials, and Gins all represent categories that had been more highly developed on premise than off premise, and validate the shift of on premise choices to drinking preferences at home, aligning with a rise in mixed drinks at home.  Tequilas were hot before, and are continuing their torrid pace of growth, buoyed no doubt by  ‘at home’ margaritas in general, and particularly in the last two weeks influenced by Cinco de Mayo. While these segments led the way, Cognac, American and Irish Whiskeys also grew at rates exceeding total Spirits over the last 3 weeks. As with wine, the number of spirit items selling in Nielsen measured off premise channels continues to remain firm - which suggests no large scale reduction of spirits available to shoppers in these stores to this point.


Thank you to Danny Brager Senior Vice-President, Beverage Alcohol Practice

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