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Beer Sales Cool Over Memorial Day Weekend  - 6 16 2021 8 22 05 AM

Beer category off-premise sales decreased 7% during the two weeks bookending the Memorial Day weekend compared to the prior year.

Overall beverage alcohol sales declined 7.5%, slightly worse than the beer category. Spirits declined 5%, while wine declined 7.5%.

Compared to 2019, overall beverage alcohol sales were 19% higher, with spirits up 31%, wine up 14%, and beer up 13%.

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the beer industry’s busiest season. The weekend’s sales primarily consist of gatherings at homes, but this year the on-premise channel was mostly opened for business, unlike last year.

As a result, on-premise value velocity increased 43% nationwide on Memorial Day compared to the prior Monday, according to CGA, as consumers took advantage of being allowed to visit bars and restaurants.

For the same holiday in 2019, velocity only increased 13% compared to the prior week. In California, velocity increased 58% on Memorial Day compared to the prior Monday despite on-premise capacity limits still in effect.

Hard seltzer was 11.7% of the total beer category sales during the two-week period, up 1.9% points, with sales up 10.7% YOY.

In comparison, hard seltzer sales for the four-week period ended June 5 were up 8.2%. Growth in the hard seltzer category continues to be driven by new products.

Of the top ten growth brand extensions for the two-week period, nine were hard seltzers.

Truly’s new Punch flavor and White Claw’s new variety pack #3 were the biggest share gainers, each up 0.6 share points.

In addition, RTD canned cocktails increased 111% YOY, gaining 2 share points, reaching 3.7% of the spirits category.

Core beer sales were only up 1.9% compared to 2019, driven by Mexican imports up 17.3%, super premiums up 10.7%, and craft up 4.1%.

Below premium was down 11.4%, premium light was down 5.3%, and premium regular was down 4.8%. Modelo Especial moved to the #2 spot in beer with YTD sales through June 5th up 8.4%, outpacing overall imports, up 4.4%.