Chin-chin! Gin & tonic flies off supermarket shelves

- IRI data shows gin as biggest growth driver in spirits thanks to craft and premium varieties
- Gin a major contributor to Christmas ‘booze bonanza’ for UK retailers

Bracknell, UK – 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,” according to 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.”

*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)


Notes for editors:

Additional Christmas 2016 12-week period data:

  • Beers, Wines and Spirits (BWS) in total grew 3% in the 12 weeks ending 31 Dec 2016 (compared to the same period in 2015) with value sales of £3.7 billion.
  • BWS was the biggest single sector contributor to Grocery growth this Christmas. Total Grocery grew by 1.6% over the same 12 weeks, an increase £336m of sales, of which £108m (nearly a third) was the added contribution of BWS.
  • Spirits saw the strongest growth during this period, with just over £40m added in sales this Christmas and worth £1.1 billion in total.

 

About IRI:
IRI is a leading provider of big data, predictive analytics and forward-looking insights that help FMCG, OTC health care, retailers and media companies to grow. With the largest repository of purchase, media, social, causal and loyalty data, all integrated on an on-demand cloud-based technology platform, IRI guides over 5,000 clients globally in their quests to remain relentlessly relevant, capture market share, connect with consumers and deliver growth. www.IRIworldwide.comFollow IRI on Twitter.

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