The closure of on-trade establishments in the 2020 and 2021 COVID-19 lockdowns in the UK was devastating for the spirits category, which has a very strong presence in the on-trade. People typically enjoy everything from premium spirits on the rocks to cocktails and shots on nights out.
The closure of on-trade establishments immediately led to a shift in the predominant sales channels for spirits. In terms of the off-trade, only essential stores could sell for much of 2020 and 2021, and the consequence was that brands which were already placed to sell well took off immediately, experiencing a rapid increase in sales as consumers invested in spirits to drink at home.
For a long time, gin saw consistent growth. However, growth peaked in 2018, and in 2021 total volume sales began to fall.
The non-alcoholic spirits trend has seen significant growth over the last few years. These products first appeared on the scene at a mass-market level a few years ago, with Seedlip garnering a lot of interest.
Back in 2018, in response to US tariffs on EU aluminium, steel and then whiskies, the UK and the EU put a 25% tariff on US spirits, which was set to increase to 50% in 2021. It has been reported that sales of US whiskey in the UK fell by over 50% following the implementation of the 25% tariff.
Meanwhile, the Mexican spirit tequila has been experiencing growth in the UK market, with sales increasing notably off-trade in 2020 and 2021. The production of mezcal in the US has also increased.
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This is the aggregation of whisk(e)y, brandy and Cognac, white spirits, rum, tequila, liqueurs and other spirits.See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Spirits research and analysis database.
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