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Control State Sales Jump In March

April 20, 2020

Control state spirit sales surged in the month of March, as drinkers stocked up during quarantines resulting from the Covid-19 virus, according to the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA). Volumes in the 18 control markets rose 17% last month, compared to low single-digits gains during the first two months of 2020 and all of 2019.

Four of the five largest control states posted impressive double-digit gains in March, in most cases tripling previous growth rates. In fact, the state of Michigan, the nation’s largest control jurisdiction for spirits, grew a mere 0.6% during the first two months of 2020, but accelerated to 14.4% growth in March. The lone exception to the NABCA surge was Pennsylvania, where state stores were shuttered on March 17th. Spirits volumes declined 0.3% last month in Pennsylvania, the second-largest control state.

All major spirits categories increased in March, with domestic whiskies (+25%), vodka (+19%), and pre-mixed cocktails (+41%) registering the biggest gains. Among the 10 largest-selling spirit brands in control states, the fastest growth was registered by Hennessy Cognac, which rose 42% last month, compared to single-digit growth in 2019. While March’s gains were robust, there is already evidence of some industry softening, as retail dollars declined during the last week of March in the state of Ohio, according to Impact Databank.—Juan Banaag

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