Stay-In-Place Orders Serve Hot Beer Sales

Inner-city stores in COVID-19-affected markets see double-digit lift over Memorial Day weekend
Photograph: Shutterstock

NEWARK, N.J. — With most states still in some level of lockdown over Memorial Day weekend, at least one retail segment enjoyed a spirited boost in sales.

Adults found opportunities to enjoy a cold one (or two) over the three-day weekend. And for those living in urban and inner-city neighborhoods, where the COVID-19 pandemic has limited shopping options, a bevy of corner stores, convenience stores and bodegas benefited from the traditional beer run that takes place that weekend, according to National Retail Solutions (NRS), a subsidiary of IDT Corp.

NRS operates a point-of-sale (POS) terminal-based platform to bodegas and other independent retailers nationwide. It monitored beer sales at stores in the heart of COVID-restricted markets, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Detroit and Philadelphia.

It found that beer sales for the Memorial Day 2020 weekend increased 28.6% vs. Memorial Day 2019 through these inner-city stores. They also grossed a 16.3% sales gain across all other categories. Outlets in California experienced the greatest beer dollar growth, up more than 50%.

Modelo Especial saw the greatest gains for the weekend and was responsible for 32% of total beer gains. Other high-performing brands included Pacifico, Bud Light, Modelo Chelada and Michelob Ultra, according to NRS. The study included sales results at about 2,900 stores.

Other top sales drivers over the holiday weekend included other alcohol beverages, mixers and tobacco products. Two standout growth categories were ice cream and frozen desserts with a 25% increase and games and toys with a nearly 100% spike, likely the result of stay-at-home orders. 

Top products purchased alongside beer included lottery, Coca-Cola, Marlboro and Newport cigarettes, Red Bull, Poland Spring Water, Barcel Takis and Doritos, NRS said.

“COVID-19 has strengthened the relationship and dependency between 100 million inner-city residents and their neighborhood market, and this is a critical retail sector for marketers to support and measure,” said Suzy Silliman, NRS senior vice president of data strategy and sales.

Newark, N.J.-based National Retail Solutions (NRS) gathers sales data though the point-of-sale terminal-based platform in more than 8,000 outlets and provides a portfolio of tools to help retailers compete.

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