Everyone in the UK is counting down the days until socialising can begin again in earnest, with the government’s various milestones giving us a welcome roadmap to the new normal.
By connecting the sales findings from 2020 and overlaying the various dates that the country is due to slowly open back up again, we can begin to predict what is likely to happen for the rest of this year. The golden rule in situations like this is: the better the insight, the better the decision making.
SalesOut 2020 Focus report
Talking of better insight, our 2020 Focus report provides a fantastic level of understanding of the extraordinary year we had, not least in the alcohol sector.
In the first lockdown, we saw a predictable rise in alcohol sales in UK wholesale with pubs and restaurant closed and consumers stocking up with supplies for home consumption.
This boom continued throughout the year with alcohol in retail up +36.2% year-on-year during 2020. Although this does need to be viewed alongside a -55.6% decline in alcohol in foodservice, with pubs and restaurants closed for long periods.
Revealing the odd surprise
While that kind of movement in sales would have been expected, there were some surprises to be found in the alcohol sector. For example, we expected the sales of Sparking Wine and Champagne to be down heavily YOY in the run up to Christmas against the backdrop of a suppressed social and family mixing environment.
However, this wasn’t the case at all, as many people were determined to try and make the most of things. With not much else to get excited about, it appears that customers found any excuse to make the most of key celebrations and milestones throughout 2020.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year
So, with the vaccination programme currently appearing to be a huge success, and the prospect of the country steadily re-opening over the next few months, what lies ahead for the alcohol sector?
Manufacturers and Convenience customers should expect a decline in alcohol sales as and when Pubs and Hospitality start to open up from April 12.
However, dependent on where Euro 2021 will be held (Come on, England!), we should expect particularly robust sales in June, with the tournament due to last from 11 June until 11 July.
Ranges expected to grow again
There are other trends we can expect to see. 2020 performance showed that a reduction in ranges and product offerings was widespread in the Convenience sector.
Consumers were making fewer visits to the shops, due to the pandemic, and the need for variety was replaced by a desire for larger pack sizes. The big shop became even bigger. We can expect to see a reverse of this trend in 2021 with ranges getting larger and pack sizes getting smaller again.
But obviously, all this will depend on how things pan out over the next few months. If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s not to take anything for granted, and we can never be quite sure whether further disruption is lurking around the next corner. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed and use all available insight to make better planning decisions.