On-trade sales of beer experienced a strong negative impact from COVID-19 in 2020, whilst the off-trade also witnessed a decline. This was partly due to a nationwide ban on all sales of alcohol from early April, which was extended until the beginning of May for the off-trade channel and for take-away alcoholic drinks, although the ban lasted longer for dine-in customers.
During 2020, COVID-19 government restrictions around the on-trade led to a significant shift in volume sales to the off-trade channel. In addition to the closure and imposition of curfews and other than during the 3-week alcohol ban in April to early May, most beer consumers preferred to keep themselves safe and opted to drink at home.
Non/low alcohol beer benefited from the pandemic and consumer switches away from beer as it was the only beer product permitted during lockdown in April to early May. Given this ban and many other constraints around beer consumption during the height of the pandemic in 2020, consumers tended to embrace this alternative to a much greater degree than they did before the onset of COVID-19.
The pandemic created opportunities for domestic beer brands such as Chang and Singha with their local presence enabling them to maintain a good supply line. This is set to stand them in good stead over the forecast period as are their cheaper prices as the economic consequences of the pandemic are set to reduce disposable income, leading to a preference for more economy priced beer brands.
Beer categories that are mainly sold via the on-trade are expected to take longer to recover than those sold via the off-trade. For instance, craft beer suffered heavily in 2020 as it is mostly sold in on-trade premises such as bars and restaurants, in which consumption was greatly affected by closures, a temporary ban on the sale of alcohol and the imposition of social distancing measures.
Low/non-alcohol beer benefited from being permitted for sale during the lockdown when sales of alcoholic beverages were banned with retailers’ alcoholic drinks shelves being filled with Heineken 0.0 instead, which can be seen as a substitute.
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