SOI Category Focus: Beer Sales Grow at Premium's Expense
Largest subcategory sees sales dip for third year of four
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Beer remains a category in transition in convenience stores and beyond. In 2013, beer sales grew less than 1% in c-stores, according to preliminary NACS State of the Industry (SOI) survey figures, but consumers are willing to spend more on better-quality beer than they once did.
Premium beers retain nearly 52% share of dollar sales in the category in convenience stores, but that number dipped for the third time over the past four years and dipped the most (-1.4%) in the same time period. Premium beers, however, still account for $7,771 in sales per month, per store on average. The average c-store sells a total of $14,973 in beer per month, according to the SOI data. Overall category sales grew 0.7% in 2013.
Meanwhile, higher-priced beers continue to grow across the board, according to Nielsen data cited during the SOI Summit in Rosemont, Ill.:
- Microbrews (craft beers) grew 31.0% in dollar sales and 57.4% in unit sales, accounting for 4.7% (or $708 per month, per store) of total beer sales.
- Flavored malt beverages, boosted by Bud Light's "Rita" line, among other newer products, grew 23.7% in dollar sales and 20.0% in unit sales, accounting for 6.0% (or $903 per month, per store) of total beer sales.
- Super premium beers grew 9.5% in dollar sales and 13.9% in unit sales, accounting for 4.3% (or $639 per month, per store) of total beer sales.
- Imported beers grew 8.9% in dollar sales and 7.7% in unit sales, accounting for 10.9% (or $1,633 per month, per store) of total beer sales.
On the other side of the coin, lower-priced budget, popular and non-alcoholic beers and malt liquors all saw single-digit dollar and unit sales decrease in 2013.
When considering the overall beer-sales landscape, Kevin Smartt, CEO of Kwik Chek Food Stores, who presented the category numbers during the summit, noted three major challenges facing the c-store industry for coming years:
- Two popular restaurant chains--Chipotle and Starbucks--are now selling beer.
- Major drug-store chains are seeing beer-sales growth, Walgreens sales up 4% and CVS up 5%.
- Super retailer Walmart has made it a goal to double its alcohol sales by 2016, citing steep discounting as a major emphasis.