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Beer sales plunge as pub closures lead to 24 million fewer pints being drunk


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Beer sales fell by a third in April with not even a surge in sales in off-licence and groceries enough to make up for shut pubs.

People in Ireland drank 24 million fewer pints in April than during the same period last year, according to data from Nielsen data, released by industry body Drinks Ireland.

Alcohol consumption including that of beer, cider and spirits has fallen sharply due to Covid-19 restrictions, with the total volume of sales down by 35.6pc in April 2020 compared to April 2019, the data shows.

Patricia Callan, director of Drinks Ireland, said the perception people were drinking more during lockdown was not borne out by the numbers.

With pubs set to remain shut until August and the tourism industry and festivals of all kinds on hold heading into the summer, the outlook for the drinks sector remains challenging.

In April, the data shows that 24 million fewer pints of beer and cider were consumed in Ireland compared to the same month last year. That was despite a 58pc increase in off-licence sales.

There were 4.9 million fewer 35.5ml "single" serves of spirits sold in April 2020 compared to the previous year.

The data collected by Nielsen is from outlets across the country but does not include sales data from Dunnes Stores or some discount retailers.

Grocery chains have gained market share across a range of areas since the Covid-19 lockdowns began in mid-March as pubs, cafés and restaurants have been shut.

An increasing share of the grocery trade has also shifted to online.

Online grocery sales soared 76pc in the past 12 weeks - the fastest rate of growth in 15 years - as shoppers tried to avoid stores due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to research group Kantar.

The latest Kantar figures, which were published yesterday, also show that SuperValu was the largest grocery retailer in the 12 weeks to May 17, with a 22.4pc share based on the value of goods sold.

Kantar said the jump in grocery sales in the most recent three-month period reflected both the pre-lockdown surge in spending on food by consumers and the eight weeks where they were advised by the Government to stay at home.

"As lockdown continues, households with more mouths to feed at home have made their way through supplies and are now starting to top up depleted store cupboards," said Kantar retail analyst Emer Hurley.

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"In accordance with Government guidelines, we've seen shoppers limiting their time spent out of home by making fewer, larger trips at local stores, visiting grocers two fewer times over the past 12 weeks than they did in this period last year.

"Families with children under 16 pushed up their spend by 30pc on average," she added.

Despite the surge in shopping and the associated demands placed on the retail network, grocery inflation declined to 2.3pc from 2.9pc in the corresponding period last year.

Kantar said that Dunnes Stores held a 21pc share in the latest period, with Tesco on 21.8pc.

"Demand for online groceries has soared over the past few months and 15pc of Irish households received at least one online delivery over the latest 12 weeks - a significant increase from 9pc last year," said Ms Hurley.

She said that an additional 26,000 households with retired people ordered an online delivery in the 12-week period, with over-65s spending an extra €8.9m online.

Sales of barbecue staples have also jumped as consumers made the most of the good weather. In the past four weeks, shoppers spent an extra €3.8m on sausages and burgers, and €5.9m more on ice cream.

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