Growth of spirits sales ‘encouraging’, CGA reveals

CGA’s client director Mark Jackson draws on the latest business and consumer research to reveal what decision-makers ‘need to know’ about Britain’s pubs and bars

One of the “most encouraging trends” post-lockdown has been the growth of spirits sales, according to CGA’s client director Mark Jackson. 

Between reopening and mid-August, spirits reportedly grew their market share of On Premise drinks sales by more than two percentage points as customers “celebrated” the end of lockdowns with cocktails, shots and shooters. 

Additionally, liqueurs and specialty spirits both grew their share of spirits sales by more than three percentage points, while non-flavoured gin, vodka and whiskey “all lost ground”.

 Cocktail sales have been higher than 2019 levels in most weeks since reopening. World lager has also gained share at the expense of standard categories.

According to CGA, Covid has “intensified people’s concerns” about health as 70% of consumers now say they proactively try to lead a healthy lifestyle. 75% think it is important to have healthier options available when eating out.

Jackson said that for the drinks industry, this translates into growing interest in low and no alcohol alternatives. 

More than a third of consumers say they have drunk these over the last year, a jump of four percentage points since 2019, with mocktails, virgin cocktails and no or low alcohol beer the most popular options. 

Additionally, Jackson said hard seltzers are “another beneficiary of the healthier drinking movement”, and that the category is starting to “penetrate the mainstream” as 34% of British consumers are now aware of them.

In addition, the pace of cocktail sales growth “shows no sign of slowing” as CGA’s Managed Volume Pool data revealed that cocktails were worth 2.0% of all sales in pubs in August which is more than twice the figure of 0.9% in 2019.

Some 44% of consumers also said they drink cocktails in their local venue and interest is as high among those in rural areas as it is for those drinking in city-centre bars. 

CGA’s research also suggests that consumers are now more open than previously to the idea of buying pre-batched and draught cocktails in pubs and bars. 

Jackson said this is “perhaps because they became accustomed to drinking them at home during lockdowns”.

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