Alcohol Sales Down in Early March

Hard seltzer sales also down, reflecting interest in RTD cocktails
Hard seltzers
Photograph: Shutterstock

NEW YORK —Alcohol sales for all channels were down 1.3% for the two weeks ending on March 12, Goldman Sachs said in a recent note, citing Chicago-based NielsenIQ data.

But when looking at a two-year stack basis, the sum of the last two year’s growth rates, all channel dollar sales were up 4.9% year-over-year, New York-based Goldman Sachs Managing Director Bonnie Herzog said.   

Sales growth in alcohol is decelerating, though, Herzog said, likely due to these factors: Ongoing pressure from tough comparisons to previous years, residual out-of-stocks, a volume shift to on-premise and strong price growth.

Beer sales growth also decelerated—down 2% for the two weeks ending on March 12. Hard seltzer dollar sales were down during that same time, too, declining 1.8%

“In our view, the deceleration in the hard seltzer category reflects increasing interest in newer alcoholic beverage categories such as RTD (ready-to-drink) cocktails, as well as continued consumer/category fatigue for hard seltzers and tough comps,” Herzog said. “To us, this continues to suggest the category is ripe for a much-needed shakeout, something our retailer contacts indicate will culminate during the spring shelf resets as discussed in our last Beverage Bytes retailer survey.”

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