The critical summer selling season is underway, and total beer, cider and FMB sales are off to a strong start. According to market research firm Nielsen, dollar sales of beer/cider/FMBs grew 4.9 percent in off-premise retailers during the Fourth of July holiday week (ending July 6) compared to the same timeframe last year.
Together, the July 4 holiday and Labor Day are typically the two largest beer selling occasions each year. In 2018, the week of Independence Day accounted for nearly 3 percent of beer dollar sales ($800 million in sales). Although consumer spending on beer that week declined 1.6 percent, the July 4 holiday marked the largest beer selling week of the year.
Hard seltzer was largely responsible for driving the nearly 5 percent growth this Independence Day, accelerating sales 147 percent, Nielsen reported. Overall FMB dollar sales grew about 37 percent, with hard seltzer brands accounting for about 40 percent of those sales.
“Strong summer momentum has hard seltzer poised to finish out the year at a new high, exceeding total sales for 2018,” Caitlyn Battaglia, Nielsen beverage alcohol practice manager, told Brewbound, via email. “Assorted packs continue to slowly grab more share of the category with the multi-flavor offerings accounting for nearly 10 percent more dollars for both Fourth of July 2019 and the year-to-date.”
So far this year, 11.2 percent of all hard seltzer dollar sales for the year occurred during the week of July 4. Compare that to the week of July 4, 2018, when hard seltzer sales accounted for 4.7 percent of the segment’s sales for the year.
White Claw, the top-selling hard seltzer brand in off-premise retailers, continued to dominate the segment, accounting for 55.5 percent of the dollar share for the week, Battaglia said.
White Claw dollar sales increased 205.7 percent compared to 2018, she added, and dollar sales are up 254.6 percent year-to-date.
White Claw offerings also claimed three spots on Nielsen’s list of top growth brands for over the week of the Fourth of July. Those brands, in order, include:
- White Claw Hard Seltzer Assorted Pack
- Modelo Especial
- Michelob Ultra
- Truly Hard Seltzer Assorted Pack
- White Claw Hard Seltzer Black Cherry
- Natural Light Naturdays Strawberry Lemonade
- White Claw Hard Seltzer Mango
- Corona Refresca Assorted Pack
- Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
- Cape Line Assorted Pack
According to Battaglia, White Claw and Boston Beer Company’s Truly Hard Seltzer brand account for 85 percent of total hard seltzer dollar sales year-to-date.
Other segments that accelerated over the Fourth include domestic super premiums (+9.2 percent), imports (+7.1 percent) and budget beer (+1.6 percent).
Mexican imports accounted for more than 75 percent of all import dollar sales during the holiday week, increasing 9.2 percent compared to the same time last year, Battaglia added.
Anheuser-Busch’s Naturdays led the dollar sales growth in the budget beer segment for the week, but accounted for just 2 percent of total budget beer dollar sales. A-B’s Busch Light brand also had a good week, growing dollar sales 6.9 percent and making up 16.5 percent of the week’s budget beer sales.
Non-alcoholic offerings, while still relatively small, grew dollar sales nearly 26 percent during the holiday week. According to Battaglia, Heineken 0.0 was among the brands driving “strong sales,” as non-alcoholic imports accounted for 35.8 percent of sales.
The news wasn’t as rosy for craft brewers. Although trade group the Brewers Association promoting July 3 as “National Independent Beer Run Day,” dollar sales of craft beer declined 2.6 percent during the holiday week.
Sales also declined for cider (-6.1 percent) and domestic premium brands (-3.2 percent) compared to 2018.
After proving popular last year, rosé cider sales declined nearly 25 percent compared to last July 4. Nevertheless, rosé cider dollar sales are up 3.5 percent year-to-date, outpacing cider’s overall decline of 3.7 percent.
Meanwhile, dollar sales of the beer category’s biggest competitors for alcohol occasions, spirits (+8.6 percent) and wine (+1.3 percent), both accelerated over the holiday week.