Shifting Liquor Store Trends


During the recent U.S. COVID-19 “recovery” phase, off-premise alcoholic beverage trends have been shifting.

NielsenIQ’s beverage alcohol expert, Kaleigh Theriault, recently discussed these shifting trends with Joe Tarnowski from ECRM and provided both helpful data and insights. Let’s take a look.

We’ll begin with the most revealing statistic, which is that off-premise sales have been declining since March 2021, which is contrary to the previous few years.

The article states that “Off-premise sales increased 19% in 2020 vs. 2019”, and that “off-premise sales increased 18% YTD vs. 2019 YTD.”

As consumers have recently enjoyed a higher comfort level dining and drinking out, off-premise numbers have declined. However, it will be interesting to see where these numbers go with the Delta Variant of COVID coming into play.

The article also highlights the continuing trend of increasing sales for Ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages and hard seltzers, as both categories have shown an increase since 2020.

Another category showing an influx is non-alcoholic beer, wine, and spirits, which have increased 35% YTD in sales.

Commenting on these trends, Theriault states that: “For the remainder of 2021, we can expect a few key trends to stick.

RTD sales are going to start gaining traction within on premise as consumers view these to be ‘safer’ beverage options.

Firstly, the movement towards ready-to-drink cocktails will continue as sales surpassed summer 2020 sales off-premise, and also expanded into on premise channels.

In addition, RTD sales are going to start gaining traction within on premise as consumers view these to be ‘safer’ beverage options.”

With the Delta variant picking up traction, we may see currently declining e-commerce sales begin to increase again, as consumers may choose to dine and drink in, rather than frequent the restaurants and bars with which they just became reacquainted.

Although online alcohol sales aren’t quite as high as they were during the height of COVID, many people have continued to utilize this service for its convenience and because they can personalize their alcoholic beverage choices.

For example, many shoppers enjoy the ability to type in “low calorie”, “low sugar”, or “gluten-free” to individualize their purchases. Theriault comments on this trend, stating that “…and retailers need to further develop their product descriptions and discoverability in order to cater to the growing segment of health-conscious consumers looking for personalization.”

We live in a more unpredictable world now than ever, and watching consumer trends is essential for off-premise suppliers’ and operators’ survival. We can expect consumers to adapt to the changing climate – and off-premise players must follow suit.


For more articles on the liquor industry – check out The Advisor Magazine – Issue 8.


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