Olympics and heatwave cause alcohol sales to surge

23 August, 2016

Sales of beers, wines and spirits grew 3% and soft drinks sales were up 9.3% in the retail trade during the Olympic Games, according to Nielsen.

Team GB secured a famous haul of 67 medals, their best total since they hosted the Games in 1908, and Brits were keen to toast their success.

The Nielsen data is for the four weeks to August 13, and the Games ran from August 5-21, so it covers the buildup to the Olympics and the first half of the Games, which has also coincided with the beautiful weather retailers have long been praying for.

In that time beer and cider grew 6.9% and Champagne rose 4.9%, while sparkling wine continued to be the star performer, up 13.9% compared to the same period the previous year, as sports fans cracked open the bubbly to salute their heroes.

Soft drinks enjoyed soaring sales too, up 9.3% year-on-year, with mineral water the biggest driver of that thanks to an 18.5% sales growth during the summer heatwave.

“The stellar Team GB performances at the Olympics combined with the hot weather, particularly in mid-July, helped supermarkets to their own personal best for some time,” said Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight. 

“Brexit seems to have been replaced by an Olympic ‘feel-good’ factor among shoppers and there were more visits to buy food and drink in the last four weeks than this time last year, with most retailers benefitting from an increase in shopper penetration.”

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