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Off-trade alcohol sales surge 29% over the Easter weekend

Published:  20 April, 2020

Off-trade sales of alcohol surged 29% over the bank holiday weekend although overall Brits spent £160m less on Easter than in 2019.

The significant increase in sales of beers, wines and spirits (BWS), measured against the same week last year, was driven by the drinks many would have enjoyed over a bank holiday weekend in a pub garden, such as cider (77%), stout (73%) and lager (67%), as shoppers took the pub experience home, according to Nielsen data for the week ending 11 April 2020.  

Moreover, accompanying mixers were up by 60%, said the research body, with the new data also revealing that overall shoppers spent £275m more than the previous week. 

The surge in BWS sales was a clear sign that UK consumers were still looking to enjoy themselves, said Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen

“The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions have led to an unusual Easter bank holiday weekend, as people across the country are secluded from the family and friends they might usually have celebrated with. 

“However, it’s clear that UK consumers were still looking to enjoy the warm weather and bank holiday weekend, resulting in a surge in alcohol sales and impulse purchasing to enjoy in their homes or gardens.”

Looking ahead, Watkins said “we can expect weekly growths to begin to stabilise in a few weeks, though it’s evident that purchasing at supermarkets here in the UK and across Europe will be affected by how soon bars, restaurants and cafes reopen, and the extent to which consumers flock back to them”.

At the end of last month, Nielsen revealed BWS off-trade sales had surged 67% in the week to 21 March - the week the government announced the closure of the on-trade. 

The data covers in-store and online sales across all major supermarkets and store formats, from large supermarkets to convenience stores, but excludes the discounters and independents.