According to a recent report from GuestMetrics, on-premise beverage sales started out the year with strong growth, with traffic and food and beverage sales up the same 2.6 percent, “The single best month we have seen in years,” according to the report. Casual dining traffic was up 3.6 percent, bars/clubs were up 2.7 percent and fine dining up 2.6 percent. The report points out that the industry had an extremely easy comp from a year ago and that comps will get sequentially tougher with each passing quarter of 2015.
Alcohol beverage volume was up 1.5 percent in January versus a decline of 1.8 percent for 2014, with spirits leading the way with 3.1 percent volume growth while wine was up just under one percent and beer grew a fraction - 0.3 percent, although that was the biggest improvement relative to 2014 trends.
Beer, however, continues to lose share - down 0.2 percent share of alcohol beverage dollars. Wine did as well, losing 0.3 percent share of dollars while spirits gained half a point share of dollars. The slowdown in wine trends mirrors what is happening in the off-premise, according to the report. Guest metrics suggests the growth in cider volume share (up 0.4 percent share of the beer category) might be the culprit.
Craft beer volume share was up about one percent in January, but slower than the total 1.9 percent increase for 2014. Craft beer now has more than a 30 percent share of the on-premise beer category, and the number of new craft offerings continues to grow strong as the overall segment is slowing, “raising issues about the sustainability of this growth,” said the report. Premium light share was down 1.2 percent, and imported brews were down 0.3 percent.
Within the spirits category, bourbons/blends gained 0.8 percent volume share, tequila and Irish whiskey gained 0.4 percent share, while vodka and rum each lost 0.4 percent share. Craft spirits gained 2.4 percent share vs. 1.9 percent for all of 2014; domestic craft spirits now hold 6.6 percent share of the on-premise spirits segment.
Within wine, Luxury, Ultra Premium and Super Premium price segments continued to take aggressive share from the Popular Premium and Economy segments. The fastest growing wine segments were Sauvignon Blanc, Prosecco and Moscato. The fastest growing wine regions/countries were Italy, Oregon/Washington and France while Australia, Argentina and California lost share.