A Rough Month for Beverage Sales

By 
Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

Wine at Christmas

NEW YORK -- "The beverage category finished off the year on a low note with particular weakness in the convenience-store channel," said analyst Bonnie Herzog, noting lower spending as a result of weaker consumer confidence, higher gas prices and rising health-care costs as the reasons.

During December, nearly all major beverage categories saw dollar sales decline, according to Herzog's latest report of Nielsen four-week scan data in all channels for the period ending Dec. 31, 2016.

The report shows ...

Bottled water

Bottled water

Bottled water was one of the few positive spots, but even its sales were soft. Dollar sales were up just 2.0% for the four-week period (and up 5.5% for 52 weeks), while volume sales grew 6.3% (and 7.9% for the full year).

Carbonated soft drinks

Carbonated soft drinks

Carbonated-soft-drink dollar sales were down 2.0% (and slightly down 0.8% for 52 weeks) on a 2.3% decline (and down 2.3% for 52 weeks) in volume sales.

Energy drinks

Energy drinks

Energy-drink dollar sales were flat (+0.3%) for the four-week period and up 4.8% for 52 weeks on a 1.5% increase in volume sales for the month and up 4.3% for 52 weeks.

Iced tea

Iced tea

Iced-tea dollar sales were down 1.2% for the month (and up 3.9% for 52 weeks) on a volume sales decline of 0.9% (up 3.2% for 52 weeks).

Sports drinks

Sports drinks

Sports-drink dollar sales were down 0.4% (and up 4.8% for 52 weeks) on a 1.2% decline (and up 4.1% for 52 weeks) in volume sales.

Beer

Beer

Beer dollar sales were down 2.9% for the four-week period on a 3.5% decline in volume sales. For the full year, beer dollar sales grew 2.4%, while volume sales were flat (+0.3%).

C-stores

C-store cooler

Specific to convenience stores, Herzog said dollar sales growth was down in beer, CSDs and energy drinks, troubling signs for the channel.

“We believe overall softness in the c-store channel can potentially be explained by lower traffic given the year-end holiday timing with this year's Christmas and New Year holidays both falling on weekends and softer spending by the low-end consumer due to higher gas prices and rising health care costs,” she said.

According to the Nielsen data:

  • Beer dollar sales were down 2.9% during the four-week period ending Dec. 31, 2016. During the past 52 weeks, beer dollar sales were up 2.3%.
  • CSD sales were down 4.2% for four weeks and 1.0% for 52-weeks.
  • Energy drinks were down 2.0% in dollar sales for four weeks but up 3.0% for 52 weeks.