Although beer sales are flat, cider is growing strongly for independent retailers

With all eyes on the World Cup, SalesOut has looked at the performance of beer and cider in the convenience retail sector to help shop owners to maximise sales in these categories.

Overall, beer and cider have recorded a sales growth of just 0.9%, which is significantly below the total independent sector growth of 6% (year to May 28, 2010). This imbalance is most likely caused by heavy promoting by the multiples, often below cost, and the continuing effects of duty fraud. The categories have also lost some sales due to the late arrival of summer. While ale and lager have suffered a loss in sales (currently down 0.7% and 2.5% respectively for the 52 weeks to 21 May 2010), cider is still striding ahead with 13.5% growth.

SalesOut's commercial director Steve Collins says: "With cider accounting for 25.1% of total sales in this category it's vital that retailers devote sufficient space to it. Cider has benefited from a year of new product variants, new brands and media advertising that have targeted a wider audience, stealing sales from beer and lager."

Strongbow is the largest brand in the cider category, accounting for more than a third of sales. Own label is popular, but Frosty Jacks and Magners are gaining, with strong growth over the period.

Conversely, own label beer is losing popularity, suggesting that c-stores should stock more well-known brands.

The decline in performance of premium lagers such as Stella Artois is being offset by the rise in popularity of standard lager alternatives, such as the lower strength Stella Artois 4% which has seen massive take-up since its launch in 2008. Collins adds: "With consumers due to gather around the TV to watch the World Cup, and with a general trend towards home-based entertainment, retailers must keep an eye on what's selling locally and equip themselves with the means to make the best ranging decisions."

SalesOut's independent sales Health Check is based on data for more than 11,000 independent stores, 5,000 of which are symbol stores.

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