By Ian Neubauer

A recent AC Nielsen research report obtained by TheShout shows the RTD tax hike is successful and is reducing the total number of packaged liquor sold by 3 million units per week.

The report used Scantrack Liquor data to compare packaged liquor sales across all categories in the quarters leading up to and following the RTD tax hike versus the same periods last year.

It showed sales of RTDs changed from 3.5 per cent growth before the RTD tax hike was introduced to a 26 per cent decline after the tax hike — down 7 million standard drinks per week.

The decline was partially offset by consumers substituting RTDs for other categories. Spirit sales moved from a 2 per cent decline compared to the same period in 2007 to growth of 11 per cent — up 2.9 million standard drinks per week. Sales of packaged beer also grew by more than 2 per cent — up 1.1 million standard drinks per week compared to the same period last year.

The report adds that “a clear conclusion of the full impact on consumer off-premise liquor sales” will not be able to be assessed at this time due to “seasonality and a short time frame since the RTD tax increase”.

Nevertheless, the findings contradict a slurry of industry-sponsored surveys and reports that show the RTD tax backfired in that it increased the total quantity of alcohol sold as consumers switched to straight spirits in droves. 

The Liquor Merchants Association of Australia (LMAA) released data in late July showing sales of RTDs dropped 30 per cent while straight spirit sales grew 46 per cent in the two months immediately proceeding the tax hike.

The figure represented a 10 per cent increase in the quantity of alcohol sold and an increase of approximately 2.3 million standard drinks per week.

And a recent survey of 480 liquor retailers commissioned by the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) found 96 per cent of respondents said the tax hike had not led to a reduction in the amount of liquor sold to their customers.


The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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