This years figures did not include Christmas Eve

This year's figures did not include Christmas Eve

Anheuser-Busch InBev lost fewer sales than its main US brewing rivals in the lead up to Christmas as overall sales in the beer market dropped 1.4%, new Nielsen figures reveal.

In the off-trade, the Budweiser brewer saw its US sales by value fall by 0.5% in the four weeks before 22 December, according to a UBS note yesterday (3 January) that carried the figures. Last year's comparable figures included Christmas Eve, which is likely to have contributed to the decline, UBS said.

Promotional activity also dropped "significantly", UBS said.

Miller Coors' overall sales fell by 3.7% in value over the same period, while Crown Imports' sales - including Corona Extra - declined by 3.5%, the figures showed. Heineken's group sales dropped by 3.3%.

Miller Lite sales dropped by 5.5% and brand Heineken dropped by 7%, the figures showed.

A-B InBev was boosted by strong demand for Stella Artois and Michelob Ultra Light, which grew by 11.9% and 3.8% respectively. However, sales of Budweiser fell by 7.3% and Bud Light dropped by 3.1%.

Boston Beer Co's value sales stayed relatively flat, up by 0.4%, continuing craft beer's strong showing against mainstream brands that has seen the sector climb to 7% of the US beer market.

The big brewers are slowly moving in to the craft beer sector. Late last year, A-B InBev set up a craft beer advisory board, wihch includes former Goose Island CEO John Hall.