Just because bars and restaurants across the US have locked their doors to comply with social distancing recommendations, doesn’t mean Americans aren’t consuming alcohol. In fact, It seems as though alcohol is one way Americans are coping with the virus. According to market research firm Nielsen, US sales of alcoholic beverages have seen massive growth as consumers stock up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the week ending March 14, 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, wine sales were up 27.6 percent, spirit sales were up 26.4 percent and beer/cider sales were up 14 percent. For perspective, Nielsen points out that in the 13-week period ending January 25, 2020, wine was up just 0.6 percent, spirits were up 3.8 percent and beer/cider were up 5 percent.
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While the spike in sales seems drastic, it merely reflects a general increase in retail sales as Americans are stocking up on non-perishables, cleaning products and medical supplies. When it comes to alcohol, it appears consumers have been seeking larger packages for their wine and beer purchases. Three-liter boxed wines are up by 53 percent over a year ago, canned wines were up by 95 percent and the 24-pack beer category is up 24 percent.
Danelle Kosmal, Nielsen’s vice president of beverage alcohol points out that, “While Beverage Alcohol categories are all experiencing double-digit growth, they lag growth rates for total consumer goods.” Nielsen claims that for the week ending March 14, 2020, “…total consumer goods grew by 40 percent in all Nielsen US outlet channels.” Kosmal said, “…this is an indication that Beverage Alcohol is important to consumers, but other consumer goods categories are being prioritized.”
For online alcohol delivery startups, the future has arrived. On Friday, March 13, wine rating app and ordering platform Vivino saw its biggest sales day ever, with 300 percent growth internationally in terms of value of merchandise sold. The ordering app Drizly also saw sales shoot up 300 percent from earlier this year. New Drizly orders are also larger than usual with consumers spending 25 to 50 percent more per purchase.
While non-essential businesses remain closed and many liquor stores nationwide remain open, the jump in alcohol sales should come as no surprise.