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Alcohol weathers Covid-19 peaks and troughs to become second highest food and drink growth category

Published:  20 May, 2020

Alcohol has weathered the storm of the coronavirus, new figures show, beating packaged foods and other beverages to see a 25% uplift in value sales since the beginning of lockdown.

The figures, from IRI’s consumer spending tracker, show how various food and drink categories have fared between 3 February and 3 May, versus the same 13-week period in 2019.

What it showed is that while most categories saw the same trajectory – a major peak in sales in March as stockpiling began, then a tailing of thereafter – alcohol managed to ride these peaks and troughs to see its overall sales rise by 25%.

The biggest peak, on March 22, when stockpiling reached its all-time high, saw value alcohol sales rise by 59%.

The second peak on Easter Sunday, 12 April, saw alcohol value sales grow by 30%.

The dip the following weekend (19 April) saw value sales falling 12% below the same weekend in 2019.

After that, again, alcohol has seen recovery, achieving YOY value sales growth of 16% as of 4 May.

Even with the dips, the overall buoyancy of the alcohol category during the period ties into what we have seen elsewhere, where UK wine drinkers already drinking wine regularly having upped their drinking frequency.

The data, from IRI’s consumer spending tracker, which it releases every two weeks, also shows how alcohol has fared compared to other categories as of 4 May. 

Alcohol beat dairy (+19%), packaged foods (+17%), fresh foods (+2%), non-alcoholic beverages (+2%) and baby food (-20%), with only frozen foods beating it in terms of value sales (+27%). 

Compared with other countries, the UK alcohol sector also performed well.

Over the same time period, value sales growth was only beaten by New Zealand (+42.5%), the US (+34.2%), and Spain (+27%), while growth dipped in Italy (-11.5%), France (-8.6%).