US off-trade spirits sales grew by 26.3% in September and October, bolstered by a triple-digit increase for ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, according to new Nielsen data.
For September and October 2020, dollar growth rates for off-trade spirit sales increased over the same period in 2019.
During the two-month period, Tequila was up 55.5%, Cognac grew by 56.2% and RTDs rose by 131%. Cordials also increased 32.1% and American whiskey was up 29.8%.
Tequila increased its share of total spirit sales by 2.1 percentage points, Cognac saw its share rise 1.1 points and RTDs grew by 0.8 points. Total whisky saw its share of spirit sales decline, due to slower growth rates for Canadian and Scotch whisky.
According to Nielsen, share gains came at the expense of share losses for vodka, which was down three points in dollar share, but up 12.1% in dollar growth.
Across price points, ultra-premium expressions were up 50% over 2019, while premium spirits increased 28.7%, mid-tier spirits rose by 13.4% and value spirits were up just 3.9% between September and October.
Nielsen said ultra-premium and premium spirits were gaining share at faster rates than in pre-pandemic time periods.
For the month of September, online alcohol sales were up 256% compared to last year, led by increases in spirit sales of 354%.
In the US on-trade, Nielsen reported that dollar sales in venues that are currently operational increased by 233% for the week ending 7 November compared with 28 March, when the US on-trade first closed due to the pandemic.
However, sales remain down by 26% compared with the same period in 2019 and follows declining sales in the week to 31 October, when dollar sales were down 9% across the US.
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Author: Owen Bellwood