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Control State Spirits Sales Up 4% In The Year-to-Date Through May

June 26, 2020

After a 17% surge in control states in March as drinkers stocked up during quarantines, spirits sales have been basically flat since then in the U.S. market’s 18 control jurisdictions, according to the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association. Volumes in the first five months of the year rose 4% cumulatively in control states, compared to a 3.7% gain for all of 2019. Six control states posted double-digit gains in May, but were more than offset by another large double-digit loss in Pennsylvania.

Only four major spirits categories increased in May in control states: domestic whiskies (+4.4%), brandy/Cognac (+12%), pre-mixed cocktails (+43%), and Tequila (+11%). Surprising declines were posted by vodka (-6.6%) and Irish whiskey (-10.5%), primarily due to decreases in Pennsylvania. Year-to-date, domestic whiskies (+11%) and pre-mixed cocktails (+34%) have registered double-digit gains through May, with cordials/liqueurs the lone major category to post a cumulative decline (-3%), according to NABCA.

Tito’s vodka, the top-selling spirit in control states, grew 8.5% in the month of May after gaining 10.5% in April and surging 40% in March. Tito’s volume in NABCA markets has increased 19% cumulatively through May, and it is projected to surpass Smirnoff vodka to become the nation’s leading spirits brand overall before the end of the year, according to Impact Databank. But among the 10 largest-selling spirit brands in control states, the fastest growth rates in May were registered by Hennessy Cognac (+33%) and New Amsterdam vodka (+23%).—Juan Banaag

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