US alcoholic beverage sales soar amid coronavirus lockdown

Alcoholic beverage sales in the US increased 55% year-on-year during the week to March 21 as shoppers stocked up ahead of a long coronavirus lockdown.

Nielsen figures show that spirits sales increased 75% compared to the same period in 2019. Tequila and gin were the fastest growing categories, while ready-to-drink cocktails were up 106%.

Wine sales shot up 66% and beer and cider grew 42%. Nielsen data also shows that American shoppers spent 28% more on alcoholic beverages in the week to March 21 than they did in the previous week, which ended on March 14.

However, the firm warned that data for the week to March 28 would offer a better indication of ongoing demand, as shoppers will have stocked up fully by then.

Delivery app Drizly, which covers 26 states plus the District of Columbia and Alberta, Canada, said the coronavirus pandemic has driven a 300% uptick in sales.

BACtrack, a San Francisco-based company that produces smartphone-connected breathalyzer device, analyzed sales data from the Bay Area and identified a 42% increase since the shelter in place directive was issued. Drinking alcohol has become increasingly popular on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.

“We said, let’s go check the data – sure enough, drinking had exploded post-shelter-in-place,” said chief executive Keith Nothack. “Right now we're in the process of crunching New York data, and we're seeing similar results. Nationwide we're seeing the same thing: higher-than-average BACs [blood alcohol concentration] and the same day-of-week shift.”

IWSR reported that Americans are reverting to familiar brands and large formats during these uncertain times. “As consumer panic leads to stockpile buying, and as consumers indulge in crisis comfort buying, we expect beverage alcohol sales to continue to increase in the short-term,” said chief operating officer Brandy Rand.

Tito’s, White Claw, Barefoot, Budweiser, Wild Turkey, Crown Royal, Jack Daniel's, Bulleit and Maker's Mark are among the brands in significant growth.