Football, economic headwinds and the year ahead - comment

Christmas week was huge. Alcohol sales in the week ending December 25, 2021, topped £756 million, making it by far the biggest week for sales in the past three years – more than £60 million higher than last year. Self-isolation, consumer caution before Christmas and an extra trading day all contributed to a bumper seven days.

This was even more impressive against a decline of £426 million over the 12 weeks to January 1, 2022. To some extent, this was to be expected, given the widespread hospitality closures at the end of 2020, but, to give that decline some context, pre-Christmas off -trade alcohol sales in 2021 were actually more than £500 million higher than in the corresponding 12 weeks of 2019, before the pandemic began.

Consumer engagement with the off -trade has never been higher. We are now approaching two years of living with Covid-19 and the take-home drinks market is likely to see a £756M Alcohol sales in the week to December 25, 2021 £60M The increase in alcohol sales compared to the same week in 2020 The percentage of global 48% consumers who said they made proactive health and wellness choices in 2021 continued uplift for the foreseeable future.

The temptation while looking ahead to 2022 is to look at the headwinds: inflation, rising energy prices, the general cost of living and the continuing impact of Covid-19. Of course, these will shape the landscape in the year ahead, but there are also opportunities.

The impact on Christmas of a first winter football World Cup will really shake things up. With the tournament starting on November 21 and the final on December 18, it will peak right at the heart of the pre-Christmas shopping season. Beer sales will benefit as it is a traditional drink of choice during a major football tournament, and there will be intense competition for in-store secondary space across the whole alcohol category during this period.

This year also brings an extra public holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, with a four-day weekend beginning on June 2. During the VE celebrations in May 2020 cider and RTDs were the winners, so look for these categories to perform this time round if the weather is kind.

In the past year in the UK, the low/no beer, wine and spirits segments have all significantly outperformed their alcoholic alternatives and we can expect this to continue in 2022.

NielsenIQ’s global report highlighted health and wellness as the single most powerful consumer force of 2021, with 48% of consumers stating that they make proactive health and wellness choices on a regular basis.

With regulations on food and drink products that contain high levels of fat, salt and sugar potentially landing at the end of the year, nutritional information will be even more at forefront of consumers’ minds by Christmas.

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