In the December issue of National Liquor News, Antonia Tolich from IRI predicts what the top product trends will be for liquor retailers this festive season.

2021 was the year of yoyo lockdowns, with the initial easing of restrictions followed by tightened stay at home rules. With the roadmap announced to see easing of social restrictions, visitors will likely be allowed in the home in all states and territories before Christmas and so we are well placed to see a surge in sales this holiday season as we invite our loved ones over.

While total liquor is down three per cent in the latest quarter, is the easing of restrictions enough to restore growth off the back of panic buying in COVID? Last year we saw a surge in consumer confidence throughout the Christmas trading period with 2020’s festive trading more than doubling 2019, seeing growth of +11 per cent.

Is sparkling set to fizz?

While we have seen sparkling growth throughout this year of +14.2 per cent, interestingly there has been a decline in sparkling since May, driven primarily by Champagne down 16.8 per cent in the latest quarter. It will be interesting to keep an eye on this in the months leading up to Christmas as shoppers try to put a difficult year behind them and enjoy some well deserved festive fizz. Champagne had a dominant performance last Christmas delivering close to $22.7 million in growth versus YA, nearly doubling the growth of the total sparkling category. Despite the decline in Champagne, Prosecco has had a stellar quarter as the number one growth driver in sparkling seeing growth of +10 per cent and is one to keep an eye on ahead of Christmas as strong growth continues.

Glass spirits continue to dominate, but is tequila in with a shot?

We expect to continue to see the dominance of glass spirits as we approach Christmas, with strong growth in the last year of +10.8 per cent, but some declines in the latest quarter aligning to total liquor trends. Glass spirit sales soared during Christmas last year and saw nearly three times the growth of 2019, +19.5 per cent versus YA. Gin performance was strong last Christmas as the number one growth driver in glass
spirits, followed by blended Scotch and vodka, and we expect growth to continue in the lead up to Christmas. Interestingly, in the last quarter we have seen tequila overtake gin as the number one glass spirit growth driver and it will be interesting to monitor the growth trajectory throughout Christmas.

The reign of RTD continues

RTD continues to reign as the fastest growing segment at +23.3 per cent and has sustained momentum in the latest quarter driven by the dominance of Smirnoff, White Claw and Brookvale Union Seltzers, which make up the top performing brands for growth in total liquor. RTD remains the segment to watch as we approach the festive trading period and warmer weather with seltzers and gin RTDs the two fastest growing segments in the latest quarter as vodka RTD sees declines of -4.9 per cent.

Craft, contemporary, and the rise of no-alc

Beer sees flat growth of +3.9 per cent this year (latest MAT to 05/09/2021) with craft and contemporary beer continuing to be the dominant growth drivers. Craft beer saw dominance last Christmas period, doubling growth compared to the previous trading period, and is still seeing slight growth alongside contemporary beer in a turbulent last quarter. Great Northern Brewing Co. continues strong momentum as the number one brand for growth in total liquor and the emergence of Great Northern Zero, already delivering $3.6m growth to the category. Nonalcoholic beer will be one to watch this festive season, seeing phenomenal growth of +72 per cent versus YA. Cider also continues its decline with flat growth in the last year and strong declines in the latest quarter of -7.0 per cent.

Final thoughts

As we count down the days to easing of restrictions, we are likely to see consumers return to a sense of normalcy with increased consumer confidence as we reunite with friends and family, perhaps even breaking the records of Christmas 2020.

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Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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