Chart shows contraction of beer industry and/or segment over time.

Chart shows contraction of beer industry and/or segment over time.

Craft Breweries Could Sell 18 Million Less Cases of Beer in April

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Brewers Association-defined craft beer companies could lose nearly 18 million cases equivalents if the shutdown of nearly all U.S. on-premise outlets forced by COVID-19 lasts through April, Nielsen CGA client solutions director Matthew Crompton shared during Friday’s Brewers Association Power Hour webinar.

“That’s a big gap in the market that has now been lost,” he said.

Crompton and Nielsen CGA client solutions manager Matt Drummond shared the firm’s “COVID-19 “Impact Report,” which focuses on consumer attitudes toward takeout and delivery of food and alcoholic beverages.

The firm shared the results of a survey of 1,200 consumers in New York, California, Illinois and Florida taken March 28-29, as well as trends from its RestauranTrak dataset — which tracks more than 10,000 transaction-level point-of-sale feeds from mostly independently owned restaurant concepts and smaller unbranded groups — for the weeks ending March 21st and March 28th.

The results were, as expected, grim. Overall dollar sales velocity for the week ending March 21st declined 73% compared to an average week, while dollar sales velocity declined 77% for the week ending March 28th.

In the pre-COVID-19 world, takeout/delivery accounted for just 11% of total on-premise sales in the U.S. Since then, takeout/delivery sales have increased 110%.

According to Nielsen CGA’s two week survey, 66% of respondents said they had ordered takeout or delivery over the two-week period ending March 28th, while 15% said they had ordered alcoholic beverages with that order. Meanwhile, one-third of the survey’s respondents said they ordered food from a venue where they have previously dined in or drank.

More than half (58%) said they ordered alcohol to avoid going to the grocery store, while 24% said they purchased alcohol bundles offered. And 61% said they expected to pay more for takeout/delivery than at retail.

The good news for craft brewers: More than half (51%) of those who ordered alcohol with takeout/delivery purchased craft beer. However, most people (60%) said they ordered either red wine or imported beer (55%).

How have consumers’ drinking patterns been affected over the last two weeks? According to Nielsen CGA’s consumer pulse survey, 22% said they’re drinking more than usual, while half (50%) said they’re drinking the same amount. And 28% said they’re drinking less than usual.

So who is drinking more? Thirty percent of 35- to 54-year olds said they were drinking more than usual, while 21% of 21- to 34-year-olds said they were imbibing more. And 9% of those 55 and up were drinking more.

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