It's been a good year for spirits in the independent retail sector

As retailers stock up for what promises to be a scorching summer, SalesOut has taken a look at performance of spirits to help shop owners maximise sales in this category.

Based on data for more than 11,000 independent stores, 5,000 of which are in symbol groups, spirits have seen a huge 10.1% growth for the 52 weeks to June 4, 2010, although this is tempered by a slowdown in growth to 1.8% for the past 13 weeks.

The slowdown coincided with the former government's Budget that came into force at the end of March, which saw a 1% increase in duty on spirits.

Despite this recent blip, big brands have had a good year, observes SalesOut commercial director Steve Collins.

"The top 10 spirits brands account for 76% of sales and outperformed the total category with growth rates of 14% over the past year and 4.5% in the last quarter," he says. "Conversely, own label sales underperformed as sales fell by 0.9% and 5.8% respectively. This decline has been compensated somewhat by the significant increase in sales of the Glens value brand, which saw continued growth of 8% underlining the need to offer a value for money selection to support the brands that flagship the category."

The spirits category continues to be dominated in the independent sector by vodka and whisky, which collectively account for more than 69% of all sales. However, significant gains have been made by tequila and liqueurs, which have seen growth of 44% and 22% respectively.

"On the whole, spirits have benefited from heavyweight promotional activity highlighting the growing popularity of cocktails and long drinks over ice," Collins continues. "With a summer of sun promised, consumers are looking to extend the range of drinks on offer at BBQs and social events. This is good news for brands such as Pimm's, which has seen 39% growth, and Morgans Spiced growing a massive 227% in the past year.

For SalesOut's list of the top selling products in the spirits category, visit