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US on-trade sales slow as cold weather bites - figures

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Bad weather has been blamed for a slowdown in US on-trade sales across the first three months of the year.

The channel posted a 2.6% sales increase in the four weeks to 25 January, but traffic declined by 0.7% in the next four-week period, according to new figures from tracking firm Guestmetrics. The four weeks to 22 March saw sales in US bars and restaurants drop off by 2.8%, leaving overall performance fractionally down for the year so far.

"We believe adverse weather across the eastern part of the US was a major factor, but it will be critical to monitor trends in April to see if there is a rebound or if the fragile economic recovery is losing steam," Guestmetrics said.

Extreme cold conditions affected many US states this winter, with north-east areas such as Boston witnessing record snowfalls.

Beer sales seemed worst affected, and declined 3.3% for the year so far. However, the performance was better than in the same period last year, when sales were down 4.4%

Year-to-date, spirits were down 0.3% similar to the full-year 2014 trend, while wine sales increased by 0.3%, a slight deceleration from the 0.7% growth in full-year 2014.

Guestmetrics figures are based on around US$8bn of annual transactions in US restaurants and bars.

In February, the tracking firm questioned the sustainability of craft beer in the US after on-trade share growth in recent weeks slowed for the segment, despite a steady rise in the number of new products.


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