MHW and Nielsen continue to provide you with the latest weekly update for beer, wine, and spirits sales in Nielsen measured off premise channels. Again, please note that this represents retail sales in key off premise trade channels, and not all trade channels. Please reach out with questions, thoughts, or comments about your observations on the COVID impact to the industry. Stay safe and well.
Unless otherwise noted, all trends below are for Nielsen off premise channels for the week ending 8/29/20 compared to the same week in 2019. We continue to remind our readers that we measure sales in specific off premise channels, and that the impact of the health crisis on sales is uneven across companies in the alcohol industry.
For the week ending 8/29/20, there was a slowdown in growth across off premise alcohol and total consumer goods; however, the timing of Labor Day last year is most likely the biggest contributing factor to this. Year ago comparisons are the week ending 8/31/19, which was Labor Day weekend in 2019.
For the latest week ending 8/29/20, total fast-moving consumer goods dollar growth was up 5.2%. With restrictions and limited traffic in the on premise, the shift in alcohol volume continues to move towards the off premise, which was up 9.4%, outpacing growth of total FMCG. For nearly every week since the beginning of March, spirits was the fastest growing category in off premise alcohol. However, wine broke through this week as the fastest growing category, up 13.0% in off premise for the week ending 8/29/20 compared to the same week last year. Spirits was very close behind that, up 12.4%. Beer/FMB/cider trailed at +7.1%. Core beer excluding FMBs/seltzers was up 2.4%.
For the week ending 8/29/20, wine led total alcohol growth this week, up 13.0% compared to the same week last year in Nielsen off premise channels. Unlike beer and spirits, which lagged prior week sales, wine sales grew 0.9% for the latest week compared to the prior week. Sparkling wine continues to lead growth in off premise, up 27.3% compared to the same week last year. Table wine grew 9.6% in off premise dollar sales for the latest week. Wine-based cocktails have once again achieved triple-digit growth, up 103%. Premium price tiers continue to lead growth, with all price tiers $11 and above in double-digit growth for the latest week.
For the week ending 8/29/20, total spirits growth decelerated to +12.4% for the same week last year, and declined 1.9% compared to the week prior in Nielsen off premise channels. Across price tiers, growth slowed across all segments, but more so in the mid price tier (+2.7%) and premium price tier (+13.9%). Ultra premium, while slowing, was still up 29.4%. On the other hand, value price tier declined by 3.0% in off premise dollar sales compared to the same week last year.
This is the first week since the beginning of March that we’ve seen several segments across the category down. However, we would reiterate that the timing of Labor Day is most likely the primary factor contributing to declines or deceleration of growth for the latest week, as Labor Day weekend was included in year ago comparisons. That said, there is an overall slowdown of growth compared to previous weeks and months. This was the first week since the end of April that category sales dipped below $1 billion in Nielsen off premise sales.
For the latest week ending 8/29/20, below premium beer was -4.8%, premium light -0.5%, and FMBs (excludes hard seltzer) -5.0%. Hard seltzer growth slowed to double-digit growth, up 87% compared to the same week last year, which again, included Labor Day weekend sales for 2019. Hard seltzer sales have slowed for the latest week when comparing to prior weeks as well. Beginning mid-May 2020, hard seltzers experienced 14 consecutive weeks of sales surpassing $100 million in Nielsen off premise channels. This is the first week since May that sales dipped below that $100 million, with just over $97 million in off premise sales.
Pack size also played a role in this week’s performance. This was the first time since March that 30 packs lost share, down 0.2 share points compared to same week last year.
This is a continuation of consumer insights we shared last week, highlighting results from a Nielsen survey of 18K+ consumers, fielded July 1-8, 2020.
The homebody mentality continues and was evident in several of the questions from the survey. When asked what types of activities consumers plan to do more of in the coming month, cooking at home topped the list, with 58% saying they plan to cook more at home. This presents off premise opportunities across beer, wine, and spirits – either through beer and wine food pairings, or cocktail recipes on prominent cooking sites.
Health-minded activities were also high on the list, with many consumers planning to participate more in healthy eating and taking vitamins and supplements in the coming months. When it comes to alcohol, health-minded trends are translated into growth in non-alcoholic segments. For example, off premise dollar growth rates for non-alcoholic beer during COVID time periods are +37.7%, surpassing growth rates of pre-COVID time periods, which were up 26.8% for 52 weeks ending 2/29/20. Similarly, non-alcoholic wine is up 23.9% in COVID time periods compared to 5.4% in pre-COVID time periods.