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Gin & Tonic Flies Off UK Supermarket Shelves

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Gin & Tonic Flies Off UK Supermarket Shelves

Gin & Tonic Flies Off UK Supermarket Shelves
January 18
09:22 2017

Supermarket sales of gin are booming in the UK, according to the latest annual and Christmas sales figures from IRI, the provider of big data and predictive analytics for FMCG manufacturers and retailers. Often referred to as ‘mother’s ruin’, gin has become increasingly popular and is now the biggest growth driver in the Spirits category, a market worth more than £3 billion overall in the UK last year.

IRI Retail Advantage*, which measures actual sales of FMCG products across the UK’s top 9 retailers, reveals that gin is now worth £420 million a year to supermarkets, up 14.5% in value sales (52 weeks to 31 Dec 2016) over the previous year. In the lead up to Christmas, gin sales reached their peak, up 18.3% (12 weeks to 31 Dec 2016) over the same period in 2015, putting £136 million in retailers’ tills over the festive period.

A corresponding rise in sales of tonic water suggests that consumers still prefer a traditional G&T, rather than combining the spirit with other mixers. In 2016, sales of tonic water reached £98 million, up 12% over the previous year, compared to a rise of 5.2% for other mixers. The 12-week period to Christmas saw 13% sales growth, with a third of all tonic water (£28 million) sold during this period.

“Gin is the spirit of choice right now and we don’t see this changing any time soon,” points out Martin Wood, Head of Strategic Insight – Retail at IRI. “According to our data, gin was the strongest contributor, both in Spirits and in the Beers, Wines & Spirits (BWS) category overall. BWS grew by 1.5% during 2016, which might not seem a lot, but with total Food and Drink sales showing overall value decline, it is a vital growth driver and worth a staggering £12.3 billion in total. Christmas was a ‘bonanza’ this year for retailers, with booze sales of £3.7 billion, 3% growth over the same period the previous year, with gin a major contributor and often bought as gifts.”

While gin sales are rising fast, vodka, whisky and brandy have still held their own over the past year. Whisky remains the favourite spirit of choice, but grew by just 0.4% in 2016 (to £1 billion), while vodka and cognac/brandy also grew by 0.4% – to £784 million and £230 million respectively. Supermarkets also saw strong (+8%) sales growth from dark rum products, which are popular for cocktails.

According to IRI, gin is sold overwhelmingly through supermarkets, while vodka also sells strongly in convenience stores. IRI’s Martin Wood believes this is mainly down to the shopper profile; ‘pre-loading’ partygoers buying vodka locally before a night out. But it also reflects innovation and new developments in the sector. “Gin was perceived as a bit old-fashioned a few years ago. But with the growth in craft gins and premium varieties, supermarkets have been keen to invest in market trends and to stock new gin lines and premium brands,” he says.

*All figures quoted are from IRI Retail Advantage (Top 9 retailers: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Co-Op Food, M&S Food, Iceland and Ocado).

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