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On-trade reopening reduces supermarket BWS growth to 1%

Published:  27 April, 2021

Supermarket sales of beers, wine and spirits (BWS) slowed significantly in the past four weeks as grocers felt the knock-on effect of the return of hospitality.

Overall for the four weeks to 18 April 2021 alcohol sales were up 0.9%, or £12m, on the same period in 2020, with alcohol sales hitting £1.3bn for the month, according to the latest Kantar data.  

This compares to the 11% growth recorded the previous four weeks (to 21 March 2021), which despite the growth was also lower than previous months during the pandemic.  

“Sales of alcohol grew by just 1% in the latest four weeks as people now have the option of eating and drinking out of the home again,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar

That said, the easing of restrictions was clearly a cause for celebration at home too, with take-home sales of sparkling wine soaring 48% during the period, suggesting that many “raised a toast with friends and family in the garden or the park”, added McKevitt. 

Total take-home grocery sales accelerated 6.5% during the four-week period, boosted by the successful vaccine roll out and relaxation of social restrictions having encouraged more people to visit physical stores. 

“There is a growing sense that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, and people are becoming more comfortable with venturing out to the supermarket. The past four weeks have been the busiest in store for the grocers in more than a year, as the number of trips made in April increased by 4% compared to March. With much of the over-65 community now vaccinated, older shoppers accounted for nearly half of the increased footfall,” said McKevitt.

The number of people shopping online in the past month fell for the second time in a row, slipping to 13.9%, down from a peak of 15.4% in February. 

While online is still growing strongly, at 46%, the rate is half what it was at the height of the pandemic.