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WSTA crowns rum the drink of lockdown

Published:  26 October, 2020

The WSTA has crowned rum the "drink of lockdown" with the spirit enjoying the biggest growth across all spirits during the period, according to new WSTA data. 

In the three months from April to June 2020, 38% more rum was sold than in the same period in 2019, equating to an extra 1.3 million bottles flying off the shelves, with total rum sales worth £119m in the quarter. 

Over the last 12 months rum sales were up 8% in volume to £430m, placing it behind only whiskies, vodkas and gins in value terms, according to the data released today. 

Growth was driven by the flavoured and spiced rum category, which between April and June grew 53% by volume to make up 3.4 million bottles of the overall category.  

Moreover, the popularity of flavoured and spiced rums during lockdown saw the variety outsell white rums over a three-month period for the first time. 

“Our latest numbers show that rum is lockdown’s champion, as the experimentation Brits liked to enjoy in pubs and bars carried over to their homes. However, this also underlines the importance of on-trade venues as the shop window for new innovations in the spirits category,” said Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA

However, he warned, with news last week of further restrictions being placed on the hospitality sector, the climate for UK distillers continued to "get tougher".  

“Last week, we welcomed the fact that hospitality venues forced to close in this latest round of measures will receive financial support and that retail will remain open under all scenarios, but we continue to express our serious concerns that – once again - those who supply the hospitality sector are being overlooked. They need access to the same levels of support and this includes our world-beating great British distillers,” he said.

Despite off-trade growth in gin slowing over recent months, this trend was reversed during lockdown with 22% volume gains and 27% increases in sales by value.  

Total gin sales, including flavoured, were up 15% over the last 12 months to £1.1bn.

In volume terms, total alcohol sales in supermarkets and shops were up 8% over the last 12 months and 35% over the lockdown period.  

The WSTA’s figures show, however, that the growth in off-trade sales did not off-set the losses seen by the closure of the on-trade – total alcohol sales slumped 20% by volume, showing that the suggestion that Brits boozed their way through lockdown isn’t reflected in the data. 

Earlier this month, new data revealed how the UK’s burgeoning spirits industry has taken a hit, with exports significantly down in the first half of 2020.