On-trade closure causes £400m gin sales loss in UK

Gin sales in the UK fell by £400 million (US$530m) in the 12 months to 3 October 2020 compared with the same period last year, according to new data.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said total alcohol sales during 2020 have declined. In the 12 months to 3 October 2020, drinkers spent £2.2 billion (US$2.9bn) on gin, compared to £2.6bn (US$3.4bn) during the same period in 2019.

The decline was due to Covid-19 restrictions that saw the on-trade close and drinkers turn to at-home alcohol consumption.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “Gin has proven to be a real tonic for shoppers wanting to enjoy a bit of down time at home during a turbulent 2020.

“It’s fantastic to hear that some distillers will have benefited from a boost in retail sales, but we have to look at the bigger picture which shows overall gin sales are down by £400 million following the hit taken by the hospitality sector due to the pandemic this year.

“There has been a huge amount of investment poured into the world renowned great British spirit industry in recent years – and we would hate to see jobs created by the gin boom take a hit.”

However, despite the loss of sales in bars, off-trade gin sales in the UK exceeded £1bn (US$1.3bn) for the first time, led by flavoured variants.

The WSTA’s latest Market Report said sales of gin in UK retailers and online rose by 22% in value to £1.2bn (US$1.6bn) this year – equivalent to 75m bottles. The majority of the bottles were flavoured gin.

The trade group said consumers purchased 10m more bottles of gin in the UK off-trade for the last 12 months to 3 October 2020 (Nielsen figures), compared to the same period last year.

In total, the UK off-trade sold around 48m bottles of traditional gin worth £716m (US$948m) in the year to 3 October 2020 – an increase of 10% year on year.

Looking at flavoured variants, 27m bottles were sold worth £456m (US$604m), up 31% on 2019.

The WSTA said off-trade sales of gin have more than doubled in the last five years. In 2015 consumers purchased 29m bottles of gin worth £375m (US$496m).

Beale added the industry needs more support from the UK government to recover from the loss of sales in the on-trade. As such, the WSTA is calling on chancellor Rishi Sunak to cut spirits duty in the spring Budget, which is due to be held on 3 March 2021.

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Author: Nicola Carruthers