Sun shines on drinks sales

16 August, 2013

Soaring lager, cider and sparkling wine sales drove an 18% rise in BWS volumes during the heatwave that bathed Britain in sunshine throughout July.

During the four weeks to July 27, lager was up 27% in volume, cider rose 40% and sparkling wine sales grew 30% on the previous year.

Nielsen’s Helen Stares told OLN: “When we’re making year-on-year comparisons, it’s important to remember the week ending July 28, 2012 – the weekend of the Olympics opening ceremony – was the fifth-biggest week for lager volumes and the fourth-biggest week for cider in the whole of 2012.

“This makes the year-on-year change even more impressive – and just shows how important the weather is for sales of long alcoholic drinks.”

The boost to the sector from heatwave sales was so strong that overall BWS volume sales are up 0.2% in 2013 (Nielsen, 30 weeks to July 27). If this is maintained it will make 2013 the first year the market has seen volume growth since the recession began.

It also means cider is up 3% in volume this year, compared to the first 30 weeks of 2012, and lager and spirits volumes are flat, arresting lengthy periods of volume decline for each category.

Stares added: “It remains to be seen what the end of the year holds in store, but indications are that the good weather we had in July will have curtailed the annual volume declines we might otherwise have expected.”

Among the multiples the big winners were Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Lidl, while Nielsen said Tesco and Asda also saw “solid topline growth”.

Amy Bird, Tesco cider buyer, told OLN: “We have had record weeks of cider sales throughout July, driven mainly by a strong performance from our premium single bottles.”

Matt Cain, senior beer and cider buyer at Bargain Booze, added: “Our cider sales shot up 26% during July compared to the previous six-week period.

“We have worked with our franchisees to increase chiller shelf space for cider because when the weather’s good the additional revenue opportunities are so strong.

“When it’s warm outside customers want to pick up their favourite drink on the way home and enjoy it cold straight away. It’s one of the major advantages off-licences have over the multiple retailers.”

Overall retail sales enjoyed their fastest July growth in seven years, according to the British Retail Consortium, which credited beer with driving the strong performance. Meanwhile, cider suppliers reported record-breaking sales. Thatchers said July was the best month for sales it has enjoyed since the firm was founded in 1904. Managing director Martin Thatcher told OLN sales benefited “enormously” from the heatwave, adding that the rain that followed has been perfect for creating a bumper autumn harvest.

Amanda Grabham, head of brand marketing at Merrydown, said: “We are seeing positive effects across all our brands. The impact the weather has on sales is phenomenal.”

Ian Lewis, head of marketing at Westons cider, added that “buoyed by some extraordinary weather, sales in July alone are growing by more than 50%”.

Rob Calder, head of marketing at Kopparberg, said: “The heatwave has already created a real demand for the refreshing taste of Kopparberg cider. Added to this some really effective advertising and the brand has just delivered its three best months sales ever. This July we doubled our sales versus the same period last year. For an independent cider company in the most competitive cider market in the world, this is a phenomenal result for the Kopparberg brand and we would like to thank all of our retailers for supporting the Kopparberg brand.”

Neil Jardine, director of take-home at Greene King, which has driven golden ale growth throughout the summer, said: “We are noticing double-digit growth in our take-home portfolio. The sunny weather puts everyone in a good mood and makes them want to socialise.”

It was not all good news, however, as Nielsen’s Stares said: “Looking at other categories, volume for spirits was only up 4% (four weeks to July 27), and light wine actually down 4%, definitely suggesting that consumers are seeking longer drinks when it’s hot.”

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