Off-premise beer sales are continuing to grow amid the coronavirus pandemic, as the majority of American drinkers remain unable to consume alcohol on-site at bars and restaurants due to forced closures and capacity restrictions.
According to market research firm IRI — which tracks scans at major retail chains, grocery outlets and convenience stores — volume sales of beer increased 24.4% during the four-week period ending May 17, 2020 (compared to the same time frame last year).
Meanwhile, off-premise beer sales accelerated over the four-week period ending May 17, growing 13% compared to the preceding four-week period between mid-March and mid-April.
Year-to-date off-premise beer sales are up 12.8%, the firm reported, driven by the continued growth of flavored malt beverages (FMBs), import offerings and craft beer.
Through May 17, sales of FMBs, including hard seltzer products, are up 86.8%. Much of that comes from soaring sales of Mark Anthony Brands’ White Claw hard seltzer variety pack, which is up 364% on the year. The company’s White Claw black cherry flavor is also up 260% on the year, while its mango flavor is up 710%.
Volume sales of Boston Beer Company
On a dollar sales basis, the entire White Claw portfolio is now the seventh largest “brand family” in IRI’s data set after hauling in more than $595 million through May 17. Over the last eight weeks, dollar sales of White Claw products surpassed Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Busch and Natural brand families, reflecting American drinkers’ continued desire for the flavored sparkling beverages.
Among craft brands, 14 of the top 15 best-selling offerings were growing at off-premise retail accounts year-to-date through mid-May. Volume sales of A-B InBev’s Shock Top Belgian White declined 17%. Other notable top-30 decliners included Lagunitas’ A Little Sumpin Sumpin Ale (-16.2%) and Stone IPA (-14.8%).
Meanwhile, sales of Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA, which was introduced at the beginning of 2018, are up 115% year-to-date. It is now the fifth largest craft beer in America, closely trailing Shiner Bock and Lagunitas IPA on a dollar sales basis.
Additionally, volume sales of more mainstream brands like Bud Light and Miller Lite are also growing. Bud Light is up 3.5% on the year, while sales of Miller Lite surged 10% year-to-date.
Michelob Ultra and Constellation Brands
Despite the strong performance at off-premise retail accounts, major players are expected to suffer overall volume declines in 2020 due to their continued inability to access key on-premise occasions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.