Beer turns in solid Memorial Day holiday volume

The beer industry turned in a solid Memorial Day weekend, achieving 2.1 percent case volume growth for the two-week period surrounding the holiday, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data released today.

Strength over the holiday helped the industry post a 4 percent gain in dollar sales on a 2.1 percent rise in volume over the broader four-week period ending June 2, per Nielsen.

Led by a double-digit surge in both the super-premium and cider segments, the overall industry’s year-to-date sales dollar performance inched up to 0.9 percent, up from 0.8 percent in the scans a week earlier. The industry also narrowed its volume shortfall for the year by 0.1 percentage points, to -0.6 percent, per Nielsen.

Flavored malt beverages, crafts, imports and budget beers also reported growth. That was offset by declines in premium regulars, premium lights and near premium beers, the data show.

Despite share losses, the industry’s volume leaders — Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite — improved on year-to-date volume trends, with Miller Lite posting another four-week period of outright growth. Miller Lite sales dollars rose 3.3 percent and volume grew 1.7 percent for the period, marking the fourth-consecutive four-week period in which the brand posted positive comps.

Here’s a look at some other highlights:

Who’s up?

Michelob Ultra Light (+0.7 share points), Corona Premier (+0.4) and Modelo Especial (+0.4) gained the most industry share over the two-week holiday period, per Nielsen. Four MillerCoors brands landed in the top 20 share-gainers: Keystone Light, Zima, Keystone Ice and Arnold Palmer Spiked. Each picked up at least 0.1 percentage points of share.

Who’s down?

Three of the five biggest share losers during the 14 days were Anheuser-Busch brands, with Bud Light shedding the most at 0.9 percentage points. Budweiser dropped 0.4 points and Busch lost 0.2 points. MillerCoors brand Coors Light gave up 0.5 points of share and Constellation’s Corona Extra surrendered 0.2 points.

Corona shifting

Despite sales dollar and volume declines by both Corona Extra and Corona Light, the Corona franchise posted 12.5 percent sales dollar growth on a 10.6 rise in volume due to continued strength by Corona Premier and Corona Familiar, both of which got broader distribution this year.

MillerCoors import success

Off a smaller base, Mexican import Sol, which continued its torrid run under stewardship by MillerCoors, was up 357.4 percent in sales dollars on a 256.7 percent surge in volume.

Fellow MillerCoors import Peroni also posted strength over the most-recent four weeks, jumping 17.5 percent in sales dollars and 19.1 percent in volume.

Rosés all day

In the cider category, rosés continued to lead the way, pushing Boston Beer Co.’s Angry Orchard franchise up 23.8 percent in sales dollars on a 21.3 rise in volume. MillerCoors cider brand Crispin also accelerated, up 40.3 percent in sales dollars and 53.6 percent in volume, fueled by Crispin Rosé.

Battle for display

Industrywide, beer continues to wrestle for display space on retail floors. Beer displays dipped slightly in the grocery channel, with Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Boston Beer and Constellation Brands each logging declines. The three top-selling premium lights dipped low single digits and Corona Extra was off 3.7 percentage points. Michelob Light inched up 0.9 percentage points and now nationally distributed Corona Premier jumped 16.1 points in display, per Nielsen. (Wine and spirits displays also have dipped in the weeks leading up to the holiday period.)

Still, Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite improved their display reach during the Memorial Day holiday period versus the two-week Cinco de Mayo holiday period that ended May 5, even as each of those brands had greater reach than the top two Mexican brands, Corona Extra and Modelo, according to Nielsen grocery channel data.

Over the Cinco de Mayo holiday period, Bud Light had displays in grocery outlets representing 57.2 percent of channel volume, Coors Light had 53.4 percent and Miller Lite had 47 percent. Corona Extra and Modelo achieved 46.7 percent and 35.7 percent, respectively. During Memorial Day, Bud Light expanded its reach to 60.4 percent, Coors Light improved to 55.5 percent and Miller Lite was up to 48.2 percent. Corona Extra and Modelo, meanwhile, declined to 40.2 percent and 26.8 percent, respectively.

This story has been updated to correct the period during which wine and spirits displays declined.