Summer Ends With Positive News About Beverages

Retailers report sales up more than 4% during Labor Day weekend
Photograph: Shutterstock

NEW YORK — Beverage sales in convenience stores grew a healthy 4.1% during Labor Day weekend compared to the year before, helping the summer selling season end on a positive note, according to a new report from Wells Fargo Securities Senior Analyst Bonnie Herzog.

"Great weather and an upbeat consumer brought summer 2019 to a solid close. ... The collective mood from our retailer contacts was buoyant," Herzog said, citing a recent Beverage Buzz survey of retailers. "This end-of-summer strength reinforces our confidence in U.S. beverages and increases our confidence in the c-store channel."

Some highlights from the report:

  • Nonalcohol beverage sales for the holiday weekend grew 3.5% in c-stores.
  • Retailers estimate that the energy category grew by a 9.3% this past Labor Day weekend, compared to 2018. The segment was led primarily by emerging brand Bang and Red Bull, which was up 7.3%.
  • Bottled-water sales grew 5.1%.
  • Alcohol drink sales increased 4.9%, led by Constellation Brands and imported beers (up 6.5%) and the continued momentum of flavored malt beverages and hard seltzers (with 14.5% growth), particularly Mike’s Hard’s White Claw.
  • Retailers are increasingly upbeat about hard seltzers, with plans to boost shelf space across the category by 20%.
  • Nonalcohol promotions were up 1.8%, and alcohol beverage promotions up 1.3%.

Looking forward, retailers on average now expect energy drink sales to grow 8.3% in 2019. They also are cautiously optimistic about the expected launch of Coca-Cola Energy in the United States. Several retailers also are anxious to embrace cannabidiol  (CBD) products in the cold vault.

“I will be including it next year pending legislative and corporate approvals,” one retailer said.

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