RTDs are facing off-trade pressure

RTDs are facing off-trade pressure

RTD sales and volumes in the UK off-trade have dropped in the past quarter as prices continue to rise, according to latest Nielsen figures.

The category's off-trade sales fell by 9% in the 12 weeks to 25 May, while volumes slid by 14%, according to the figures, released by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) today (June 20). In the same period, the average unit price rose 6%, mirroring a 5% price jump in the past 12 months.

RTDs make up just 1.3% of UK off-trade volumes, but the drop contributed to an overall 2% fall in volumes and 3% decrease in all off-trade alcohol sales over the 12-week period.

Beer volumes dropped by 5% and sales by 3% over the period.

Wine and spirits volumes stayed mainly flat with sales increasing 3% and 4% respectively in the 12 weeks. 

In the on-trade, blended whisk(e)y sales fell by 9% as malt whisk(e)y posted a 22% sales jump over the 12 weeks. Gin sales also increased by 16%.

Meanwhile, sparkling wine continued to grow sales, up 10% for the year and 7% for the past 12 weeks. In a WSTA report in March, sparkling wine sales rose by 11% in the 12 months to the beginning of February to GBP405m (US$606.5m).

The WSTA blamed the UK duty escalator for the overall sales falls, and said the hike has helped increase alcohol prices by 2% in the off-trade and 4% in the on-trade for the year.

“While there are a small number of categories in the wine and spirit sector with modest volume growth, the overwhelming picture is one of decreased sales and increased duty rates, with consumers inevitably having to foot the bill,” WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said.

Beale said the introduction of the alcohol duty escalator in 2008 has increased duty on wine by 50% and on spirits by 44%.