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Retail Insights

Alcohol Sales Dipped in December 2022

How did alcohol sales in December 2022 compare with the year before? At first glance, not so well, but when you break down the detail, there are some grounds for optimism, and some indicators about how to change your alcohol range as we enter 2023.

We looked at the data*. Overall sales value for December 2022 was down by more than 3% compared with 2021 – and the biggest fall in sales was recorded in beer. Does this mean that beer is waning in popularity? Not really. You need to remember that week of freezing weather during December – and beer sales are affected by temperature! Cider is similarly affected.

Our weather data shows that the average temperature during December 2022 was all of 5 degrees C lower than in December 2021 (5C as compared with 10C.)

The overall drop in sales was -3.3%, broken down into sub-categories as shown in figure 1.

Alcohol Performance

Then when you look at the relative shares of the alcohol category, you can see below why overall sales value was down in 2022, because beer and cider together make up 44% of the total category. Sadly, the best-performing part of the category – RTD’s makes up just less than 5% of the category.

Share of Total Alcohol Spend

How does this affect the retailer’s ideal alcohol range? Firstly, each retailer has to make their own decisions driven by their own customers. Talking to customers affects many retailers’ range decisions, and rightly so, but you might also want to start thinking about how you could tap into the growing RTD sector, which includes cans of hard seltzer, ready mixed cans like Gin and Tonic and Vodka cocktails. They were the strongest-growth sub-category with an 11.2% uplift compared with last year. You could also think about growing the presence of “Low & No” on your shelves.

We published an item on “Low & No” last year, but have had a look at Christmas sales as well.

Low / No Alcohol Performance

Quite strong growth as compared with Christmas 2021 (nearly 10%) but from such a low base that it didn’t make much impact on overall turnover. Recent research by the Portman Group (an industry-funded social responsibility and marketing regulator for the alcohol industry) however, shows that more people are trying Low & No, and going on to make repeat purchases.

More than one fifth (22%) of Scottish drinkers say their alcohol consumption has reduced since first trying low and no drinks.
The Portman Group
As the quality and taste of Low & No products improves, we expect to see sales increase, along with drinkers’ increased awareness of the health and other impacts of conventional alcoholic drinks. Government and health bodies are increasingly looking at ways to try to reduce alcohol consumption, and the obvious way to help this process is to make available great-flavoured alternative Low & No products.

Whilst the adoption of Low & No is still quite underdeveloped, it would be difficult for retailers to select a sensible range. This is where talking to your customers becomes vital. Which products have they tried? Which ones would they drink again? You could even host a tasting event in your store. Invite the distributors of a range of Low & No products to help you host an evening of Low & No products for your customers to try. RDP would be happy to help you promote such a tasting event via social media if you’d like us to do so.

*based on sales through 3,450 independent convenience stores in 2022 and 3,275 in 2021.

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