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Grocery BWS sales boom in January with hospitality lockdown

Published:  02 February, 2021

Alcohol sales in the grocery sector grew overall by 29% in January boosted by the closure of the on-trade sector with the Covid-19 lockdown.  

According to statistics from Kantar sales of alcohol in the grocery channel grew by £234m to over £1bn in the four weeks to 24 January. This saw increases in grocery sales in all alcohol categories. 

Wine, excluding sparkling and fortified, was the biggest category by sales at £401m – a growth of 26% on the same time last year, followed by spirits at £286m - up 28%.  

Meanwhile, sparkling wine sales were up 35% on the previous year to £66m, while fortified wines were up 34% to £4m.

The biggest growth category by percentage was flavoured alcoholic beverages, which surged by 44% to £4m. 

Beer and lager sales were also up on last year by £50m to £194m, while cider sales increased by £12m to £59m.  

While alcohol sales grew, Dry January had an impact on non-alcoholic beer sales, which increased 12% to £1m. 

These latest statistics follow a similar trend to those for December from Kantar. It revealed that supermarket sales of beer, wines and spirits (BWS) surged 25%  - an increase of £972m compared to the same period last year. 

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “People have certainly not decided to stop drinking alcohol in January. January is normally about health but people are conflicted this year. They want to keep treating themselves.”

He added: “Dry January also played a role in increased spend on no-alcohol beer, which grew by 12%.  

“However, many sought to indulge and keep spirits high during a tough winter month.

“This period also captured a unique New Year’s Eve – with many people celebrating the night at home instead of going out or hosting family and friends.”

In January alone, shoppers spent £1bn more on supermarket food and drink items compared to the same four-week period last year, according to Kantar.