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The Supply Side: Beer, alcohol sales rise as stay-at-home orders persist

Alcoholic beverage sales shot up in March as stay-at-home orders were issued.
Credit: MGN Galleries

Alcoholic beverage sales shot up in March as stay-at-home orders were issued, and many bars and restaurants had to close for dine-in service to enforce social distancing measures. That sent consumers to liquor stores, Walmart and even local taprooms trying to stock up on craft beer and spirits, just like they loaded up toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

Market research firm Nielsen said total beer dollar sales in off-premise retailers rose to $791.9 million, up 14% the week of March 14, compared to the same week a year ago. Beer category dollar sales are down from the peak stock-up week of March 15-21 when sales increased 42% to $967.1 million. In the last week of March, Nielsen said beer sales rose 17% to $817.8 million compared with the year-ago periods.

For the week ending April 4, dollar sales of total craft (up 15.3%) and independent craft (up 15.8%) beer were nearly identical, Nielsen reported. Looking at craft beer sales only, Nielsen says sales rose 21.1%, noting many breweries are down overall in sales since the majority of the revenue comes from the tap and on-site consumption.