By Nielsen

The year-over-year growth rate for total off-premise alcohol dollar sales within Nielsen measured channels slowed to +11.5%. That’s down from a growth rate of +19.2% for the prior week.

Spirits continue to lead growth, up 23.2%.

Wine grew 15.2% in dollar sales.

Beer/FMB/cider lagged significantly, at +6.6%. Core beer excluding FMB/seltzer/cider was actually down 0.8%; this is the first time since the last week of February that core beer experienced negative growth trends.

The following two graphics reflect the year-over-year change in dollar sales for the pre-COVID, ~full pandemic (18-week period ending 7/4/20) and recent one-week periods. The second graphic also includes year-over-year change in volume sales over the full pandemic period.

In the words of Danny Brager, Senior Vice President of Beverage Alcohol at Nielsen:

“With a second round of closures for the on-premise in many states, we expected off-premise trends to be stronger for the July 4th holiday; however, as we have seen over the past several months, off-premise trends have been very unpredictable. Off-premise performance for beer, in particular, was interesting and sobering in the latest week of Nielsen data, given that July 4 is traditionally a big beer week.

Still, we do need to keep in mind a couple of things. The year ago comparison is versus the week ending July 6, 2019. July 4, 2019 fell in the middle of that week, so sales for that week reported by Nielsen were likely largely inclusive of most sales related to the holiday. This year July 4th fell on a Saturday; as such, it’s quite possible that this set of data may not fully reflect all of July 4th related sales, since some retailers don’t report their weekend sales until the following week, and there might have even been some carryover celebratory purchases made on Sunday, July 5th. We’ll need to see next week’s data to obtain a full grasp of off premise sales related to the July 4th holiday.”


For the first time since the COVID related shutdowns took effect back in March, the increase in the number of households buying adult beverages off premise fell below +10% (up 7% and 8% respectively for the week ending 6/13 and 6/27 vs. year ago).

Spend per trip continues to be up over 10%, with 6/27 enjoying a 14% increase in total adult beverage dollar sales per trip vs. year ago.

Trips per household are consistently slightly below last year.

Breaking down the last week in the quarter by category shows some definite differences between beer, wine and spirits:

Beer buying households (excluding seltzers/FMB/cider) were flat vs. year ago; however dollars per trip were up 8%.

Wine buying households off premise increased by 11%, led by large double digit increases in sparkling wine; however, still wine dollars per trip were up 18% vs year ago to help drive sales.

Spirits consumer dynamics continued to be very strong; 19% more households are buying this year off-premise vs the same week year ago, with dollars per trip up 11% for an overall strong consumer performance.


NOTE: this section is focused on the on-premise (bar, restaurant, taproom, etc. space). Everything else in this report is focused on the off-premise (retail…grocery store, liquor stores, etc.) space.

Based on Nielsen CGA RestaurantTrak data (comprised of ~15,000 independent restaurant operators and smaller groups), sales velocities in the week ending June 27, 2020 improved to -10% vs the pre-COVID norm (for those outlets still open), representing a +220% increase vs the week ending March 28. However, there is predictably significant state by state variation based upon differences in COVID infection rates by state and government action in those states.

Over the weekend of July 3-5, Nielsen CGA surveyed consumers in Texas, Florida, California, and New York who drank alcohol in the last 3 months. While overall visitations to the on premise remained relatively stable (38% have been out primarily for an eating occasion, and 14% primarily for a drinking occasion), there was a significant increase in visits in New York, but only stable levels in the other states. When asked if the recent outbreaks and rise in COVID-19 cases in parts of the country had affected decisions to go out to the on premise, 61% said they chose not to go out at all, 27% remain unaffected, and 12% chose to go to a different venue.

Takeout and delivery remained important, with 65% ordering food and 11% ordering alcohol. The most popular means of ordering alcohol for takeout/delivery are directly from restaurants/bars (45%), from third party delivery apps (38%) and from online liquor, wine and beer retailers (31%). Wine remains the most popular ‘alcohol type to go’ (red, then white), well above craft beer and cocktails in second and third place, respectively. Within spirits, the popularity of the Margarita shone through, with tequila being the most popular base for to-go cocktails.

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