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BWS retail sales drop as consumers return to hospitality

Published:  02 June, 2021

Beer, wine and spirits (BWS) sales in the grocery sector fell by 6.7%, for the four weeks ending 22 May 2021, as consumers returned to visiting pubs, bars and restaurants, the latest data from NielsenIQ has revealed. 

NielsenIQ also said that lager sales were down by 28% and cider sales by 41% for the week ending 22 May 2021 versus the same week in 2020, as households took the opportunity to eat and drink out of home. 

However, champagne sales were up 30%, which it said could be attributed to the" feel good factor" with more people entertaining at home and outside. 

These stats reflect recent data from Kantar which showed that BWS supermarket sales slowed significantly in the four weeks to 18 April 2021 as grocers felt the knock-on effect of the return of hospitality. Alcohol sales were up 0.9%, or £12m, on the same period in 2020, with sales hitting £1.3bn for the month. 

NielsenIQ revealed that total till sales fell 2.7% in the four weeks ending 22nd May 2021, with grocery sales declining 6.7% during the week ending 22 May, the first week indoor cafes, pubs and restaurants reopened.  This also coincided with a summer heatwave and an earlier late May bank holiday last year.

Without the requirement to limit unnecessary travel, the data also showed that visits to stores are up by 20% compared to the same period last year. However, with more frequent visits, spend per visit has fallen to £17.40 from £21.50 in May 2020.   

This is as a result of lockdown restrictions easing, with more opportunities to socialise outdoors and many people returning to the office. 

“Looking ahead, the challenge for food retailers is to reassess shopping behaviour now when their customers have opportunities to spend elsewhere across leisure, hospitality and travel, particularly when restrictions are permanently lifted at the end of the month," said Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight. 

“However, with the start of warm weather, Euro 2021 on the horizon, and the likelihood of more stay at home UK holidays, there will still be opportunities for supermarkets to increase basket spend and improve sales as we head into the summer months.”