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UK consumers swap the bar for the home, reveals new data

By Guy Montague-Jones , 16-Sep-2010

Fresh data on the UK alcohol market shows how the recession has persuaded consumers to spend less in bars and compensate by spending more at the supermarket or off license.

Neilson MAT data looking at the off trade market for the 12 months up to 7 August this year reveals value growth across all alcohol categories except fortified wine. Volume was also up in every category bar fortified wine and ales.

Commissioned by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, the market report estimated that the off trade market as a whole in the UK grew 4.5 per cent in value terms to £14,131m. Meanwhile, volume growth lagged a little behind at 1.7 per cent.

However, much of this growth came at the expense of the on trade channel, as all categories experienced lower volumes and only standard lager and cider reported value growth.

Champagne shift

The most dramatic shift from bar to home came in the market for champagne and sparkling wine. On trade sales dropped 17.6 per cent in value terms and 6.4 per cent in volume to 113,000hl, according to data from CGA Strategy MAT.

But the bulk of champagne and sparkling wine is drunk at home and here the economic clouds hanging over the UK failed to dissuade consumers from splashing out.

Helped along by a glut in production, off trade champagne volumes rose 15.1 per cent and value sales increased 11.2 per cent. Sparkling wine also performed well with sales rising 11.2 per cent in value.

Cider resistance

Meanwhile, still sticking with bubbles, the popularity of cider and perry continued to increase over the past year. Off trade volumes increased 7.3 per cent and value sales rose 10.3 per cent and even in bars the category resisted the recession. Volume fell 1.7 per cent but in value terms sales were up 2 per cent, making it the best performing on trade category.

2009/2010 turned out to be a mixed year for spirits, with off trade value sales up 5.5 per cent, supported by high growth in liqueurs, rum and imported whisky. But on trade spirit sales were down 3.3 per cent in value terms and 5.5 per cent in volume. Similar trends came through in the data, with rum and liqueurs doing well while major staples like vodka and blended whisky fell back.