Nielsen: Off-Premise Beer Category Dollar Sales Top $998 Million During First Week of June

After back-to-back billion dollar sales weeks in off-premise retailers, beer category sales fell just short of a three-peat during the first week of June.

For the week ending June 6, off-premise beer category dollar sales increased 22.1%, to $998.4 million, according to market research firm Nielsen.

Beer category dollar sales in the two-week period covering the lead up to and the week of Memorial Day topped $2 billion, an increase of $344 million compared to the same two-week period in 2019. Those weeks were rivaled only by the July 4 holiday week in 2019 during the last 52 weeks, Nielsen reported.

Through the weeks covering the COVID-19 period in the U.S., from early March through early June, the beer category has totaled $12.8 billion in off-premise sales, up $2.3 billion (or 21.4%) compared to the same period in 2019, Nielsen VP of beverage alcohol practice Danelle Kosmal told Brewbound.

Year-to-date off-premise dollar sales of beer, FMB and cider are up 15.4% compared to 2019.

Even as off-premise sales have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down essentially all on-premise sales in the U.S., the growth hasn’t been enough to make up for the loss of sales in bars, restaurants and brewery taprooms.

Nevertheless, the growth rates for off-premise beverage alcohol sales continue to outpace those of other fast-moving consumer goods (+8.7%).

“As nearly every state has entered some phase of re-opening, we would expect to see off-premise growth rates slowing as volume shifts back to the on-premise,” Kosmal wrote. “However, total off-premise alcohol sales are still growing at a very strong pace, up 24.1% compared to last year.”

The hard seltzer segment maintained its triple-digit growth rate, increasing dollar sales 255%, and continued to hold 10% of category dollars during the latest one-week period.

Craft beer dollar sales increased 16.5%, driven by Molson Coors Beverage Company’s Blue Moon (31.5%), Sierra Nevada (+28.7%) and New Belgium (+27.4%).

“The top 10 craft brand families (ranked by dollars in pre-COVID time period) are up in dollar sales for the latest week, and all but one are up double digits,” Kosmal noted.

Other segment highlights for the week ending June 6:

  • Super premiums increased off-premise sales 22.8%, driven by Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Michelob Ultra, which increased sales 30.5%.
  • Mexican imports increased sales 19%.
  • FMBs, minus seltzers, grew sales 19.3%, attributed to Mark Anthony Brands’ Mike’s Hard Lemonade (+30%) and Boston Beer Company’s Twisted Tea (+34.8%).
  • Nielsen said kombucha posted its slowest week but still increased dollar sales 50.1%.
  • Premium lights increased sales 9.8% during the last week, and year-to-date sales of Miller Lite (+9%), Coors Light (+7.5%) and Bud Light (+1.7%) are all in the black.

Additionally, consumers haven’t yet shifted their purchasing behavior away from larger pack sizes, Nielsen reported. Dollar sales of 24-packs (+27.7%), 30-packs (+23.4%) and 12-packs (+42.5%) are outpacing smaller packs such as 6-packs (+12.3%) and single-serves (+6.3%).

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