Off-trade records highest growth since lockdown began

The UK off-trade recorded the week with the highest levels of like-for-like growth since lockdown began.

The week ending May 9, 2020 saw off-trade sales up by 50% compared to the same week in 2019, according to Nielsen data. And also during this week, Champagne sales grew for the first time since lockdown began.

The huge off-trade uplift was triggered by VE Day celebrations, which spanned a Friday bank holiday weekend, as well as ongoing lockdown measures whereby the on-trade channel remains closed.

The only week this year which reflects a comparable level of off-trade growth is the week before lockdown, where stockpiling and the impending lockdown measures drove off-trade sales up by 55%.

With no pubs open beer and cider have been the strong winners in the total off-trade over the lockdown period, and the week ending May 9 was no exception to this. Beer sales were up 70% on the same week in 2019 and cider sales were up 90%.

Sales of spirits were up by 44%, still wine up 33% and sparkling wine 42%.

Gemma Cooper, Nielsen’s senior commercial business partner and Drinks Retailing columnist, said: “The long weekend and VE Day celebrations boosted off-trade sales as they experienced the highest growth (+50%) since the beginning of lockdown!

“We see cider as the fastest growing this week +90%, with both apple and flavoured ciders proving popular choices for UK shoppers in the lastest week.

“It is also worth pointing out that shoppers looked to treat themselves with bubbles for the long celebration weekend; Champagne has seen the first week of growth since lockdown (+4%) and sparkling wine is +42% (highest growth since lockdown).

“With restrictions eased, it will be interesting to see the impact, if any, this has on the growth we are seeing in the off-trade."