Beer was the most negatively impacted alcoholic drink in 2020, with on-trade sales seeing a decline of 48% due to the closure of on-trade establishments such as pubs, bars and clubs, where the majority of beer produced in Ireland is consumed. On 12 March, outdoor events in the country were cancelled, with the closure of all pubs and bars taking place 15 March, two days before the St Patrick’s day celebrations.
Off-trade volume sales of non/low alcohol beer saw the strongest off-trade growth in 2020, gradually expanding into the Irish beer market, although from a smaller base. With the COVID-19 virus increasing the interest in health and wellness, this boosted sales for non/low alcohol options.
Diageo Ireland continued to lead the volume sales of beer in 2020, benefiting from having an established presence with its Guinness brand. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions in March, including the closure of bars and restaurants, had a significant impact on the performance of Diageo sales in Ireland, leading to a fall in share.
On-trade volume sales of beer are set to start recovering from 2021 as consumers return to bars, pubs and restaurants. However, some consumers in Ireland will remain cautious about visiting on-trade establishments and outdoor events – especially those that are more crowded.
As on-trade establishments gradually open in 2021, off-trade sales are set to see a decline in volume growth. In addition to the competition from the on-trade, consumers are set to become more focused on their spending, as the economic recession following the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, increases price sensitivity in the country.
A shift towards home delivery and e-commerce is expected to take place across the forecast period, with consumers having relied more on grocery deliveries in 2020. As such, this behaviour may persist in future, with consumers having got used to the ease and convenience of e-commerce, especially for bulky items such as beer.
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