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WSTA figures reveal the drink of lockdown

Created: 26 October, 2020

The WSTA has crowned rum the ‘drink of lockdown’, as their latest figures show that rum enjoyed the biggest growth across all spirits during lockdown.

In the 3 months from April to June 2020, 38% more rum was sold than in the same period in 2019, equating to an extra 1.3 million bottles sold.

Total rum sales were worth £119 million in the quarter alone.

Over the last 12 months rum has enjoyed 8% volume gains and is now worth £430 million, placing it behind only whiskies, vodkas and gins in value terms.

The biggest growth was found in the flavoured & spiced rum category, which between April and June grew 53% by volume to make up 3.4 million bottles of the overall category.

The popularity of flavoured & spiced rums during lockdown saw the variety outsell white rums over a 3-month period for the first time.

The strong performance of rum, as well as gin, shows that consumers looked to indulge their love of cocktails and explore new flavours during the Spring even though pubs and bars couldn’t open.

Despite off-trade growth in gin slowing over recent months, this trend was reversed during lockdown with 22% volume gains and 27% increases in sales by value.

Including flavoured gins, total gin sales over the last 12 months total £1.1 billion, growth of 15% over the last 12 months.

With pubs, bars and restaurants closed it was inevitable that off-trade sales would increase – in volume terms, total alcohol sales in supermarkets and shops are up 8% over 12 months and 35% over the lockdown period.

The WSTA’s figures show, however, that the growth in off-trade sales did not off-set the losses seen by the closure of the on-trade – total alcohol sales slumped 20% by volume, showing that the suggestion that Brits boozed their way through lockdown isn’t reflected in the data.

A boom in distillery numbers in recent years has gone hand in hand with an increasingly experimental British public, but distillers often rely on consumers trying their product in a pub or bar before heading out to source a bottle for themselves at home.

At a time when further restrictions are placed on pubs, bars and restaurants as part of further Covid-19 measures, the WSTA is highlighting that these venues act as the ‘shop window’ for Britain’s SME distillers.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: 

“Our latest numbers show that rum is lockdown’s champion, as the experimentation Brits liked to enjoy in pubs and bars carried over to their homes. However, this also underlines the importance of on-trade venues as the shop window for new innovations in the spirits category.

“With news just last week of further restrictions being placed on the hospitality sector, the climate for our distillers, many of whom are SMEs and have come to represent such a great British success story of recent years, continues to get tougher.

“Last week, we welcomed the fact that hospitality venues forced to close in this latest round of measures will receive financial support and that retail will remain open under all scenarios, but we continue to express our serious concerns that – once again – those who supply the hospitality sector are being overlooked. They need access to the same levels of support and this includes our world-beating great British distillers.”

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