The pandemic has thrown just about everything in the alcohol beverage business (and life in general, for that matter) in a new and different direction. And that includes trying to measure what is up and what is down. Forever, we have measured beer sales performance by comparing to the same period in the previous year. But with widespread closures in the on-premise driving extreme buying in the off-premise, comparative sales numbers are wonky to say the least. Having said that, Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association has not shied away from taking a look at beer sales mid-year through 2022.
“The recovery from COVID-19 has been mixed based on geography, size, and business model, and the conflicting but increasingly negative signs about the short-term future of the U.S. economy beg the question of how much longer craft’s recovery can continue,” said Bart in his recent blog post.
Bart first takes a look at the off-premise scan data, which he says is “underwhelming or even concerning depending on your point of view.” Total beer volume sales were down 6.5% in the first half of the year, which again is hard to interpret given that during the same period last year the off-premise was slowing down as the on-premise was recovering.
The on-premise, which is always harder to measure than off-premise, appears to pick up some of the sales lost in off-premise. Retail census data shows foodservice and drinking places sales up 15% in the first half of 2022 versus same period last year (24% before controlling for inflation), according to Bart.
Bart will have a more detailed look at the first half of this year plus more on the American economy on July 28 when he presents the results of the BA midyear survey in a BA Collab Hour webinar. BA members can register for the seminar here.