Hangover for the drinks sector as pint sales go flat

Some 24m fewer pints of beer and cider were sold in April, data from Nielsen shows

In the State’s first full month in lockdown, sales of alcohol plummeted and a rise in off-trade sales failed to make up for the decline. Photograph: iStock

In the State’s first full month in lockdown, sales of alcohol plummeted and a rise in off-trade sales failed to make up for the decline. Photograph: iStock

 

Some 24 million fewer pints of beer and cider were sold in the Republic in April compared with the same month last year as the Government’s lockdown caused pubs to remain shut.

In the State’s first full month in lockdown, sales of alcohol plummeted and a rise in off-trade sales failed to make up for the decline due to the nationwide shutdown of pubs.

Total sales fell 35.6 per cent in April compared with the same month last year, according to figures from data company Nielsen released by lobby group Drinks Ireland.

There was a 58 per cent increase in the volume of beer and cider sold in the off-trade but overall sales were down 36 per cent due because virtually no sales were made in licensed venues. Drinks Ireland estimates that usually about 60 per cent of beer and cider sales are made in licensed venues.

A similar trend was observed in spirits, with 4.9 million fewer 35.5ml servings sold in April. While there was a 24 per cent increase in the volume of spirit sales in the off-trade, the total volume of spirits sold in the month was down 13 per cent.

Supermarkets excluded

“With pubs, restaurants and hotels closed and Government restrictions in place, there’s been not only a fall in the amount of alcohol consumed, but changes in the way people drink,” said Drinks Ireland director Patricia Callan.

While the Nielsen figures detail a significant fall in overall drink sales, it is important to note that the data does not incorporate sales from grocery retailers that control a large portion of the market. Excluded are sales from Dunnes Stores, Aldi and Lidl, which between them hold a 44.7 per cent share of the State’s grocery retail market according to the most recent figures from Kantar.

The figures also don’t include wine sales. However, the industry estimates that the volume of wine sales has remained static as a result of an increase in off-trade sales. This is down to the fact that about 80 per cent of wine is sold in the off-trade under normal circumstances.

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