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Alcohol Trends: What to Stock & What to Drop for the Holidays

December Holiday Alcohol Trends

We’re celebrating the end of 2020 the only way we know how: through copious amounts of data. Before we throw this year in the trash where it belongs, let’s analyze last year’s data to forecast December beverage trends. It goes without saying that this is a holiday season unlike any other, which is why today we’re providing some actionable insights no matter what restrictions you’re working with. Because, let’s be honest, the last thing you need right now is a stressful stock up.

We dove into our data from the weeks of December 10th to the 23rd of last year and compared it to two weeks prior. We discovered all sorts of trends that may be helpful to you as you plan out your next beverage order. From stats on hard seltzer to sparkling wine, this is data you won’t get anywhere else. 

Alright, now for the fun stuff. Let’s talk about alcohol trends!

Access the Holiday Quick-Order Guide


The Beer Segment is Booming

Between beer, wine and spirits, beer staked its claim as the fastest-growing segment. The product type grew 45% week over week (WoW), cutting it narrowly above wine and spirits which grew 44% and 43% respectively.

Sessionable, Light Beers Outperform the Rest

Beverage buyers were quick to load up on Witbier, Kolsch, and Light Lager styles—all of which are lighter, typically low ABV and super sessionable. Beers like Metropolitan Krankshaft Kölsch, Bud Light and Allagash White ruled these styles, seeing an increase in both growth and overall volume sales. Notably, Bud Light had the most overall volume sales out of beer, wine AND spirits combined!

Darker Beers are the Best Alternative to Low ABV

When deviating from sessionable beers, beverage buyers opted for darker, heavier styles. Think Scottish Ales, Amber Ales and Stouts — a true reflection of seasonal flavors. But few beers saw the exponential growth that Four Peaks Kilt Lifter did. From December 10th to the 23rd, the beer saw a 227% increase in volume sales! There is something to be said about winter and the holidays that make us long for the comfort of familiar, seasonal flavors, and these trends only support that.

Honorable mention goes to Ginger Beer, which grew 61% during this time period. And to that we say, bust out the copper mugs!

Key Beer Trend Takeaways

Stock up on your tried-and-true staples, but make sure to include something sessionable and something heavy into the mix. For states with indoor dining bans, consider stocking up on canned beer to sell to-go or upsell with any of the dishes on your menu.


Hard Seltzers are Proving their Staying Power

If our data tells us anything, it’s this: Just because Summer is over, does not mean Hard Seltzer is. The segment grew a whopping 98% WoW from December 10th to the 23rd, and we’re expecting to see a similar pattern this year.

Not surprisingly, White Claw dominated the segment, claiming three of the four top-selling hard seltzers. The most popular? Black Cherry had the highest overall volume sales, but came in second-place to Mango as fastest growing.

Key Hard Seltzer Takeaways

 All this to say, when you are planning out your holiday beverage order, it’s never a bad idea to include a few spiked and sparkling options. They can easily be incorporated into any to-go cocktail kit, and not to mention, are still wildly popular among consumers today.


Cocktails will be King this Holiday

Even though the spirits segment showed the least amount of growth from December 10th - 23rd, it had the most overall volume sales. Not to mention, we saw several microtrends worth noting.

For instance, beverage buyers must have been preparing to sling out cocktails. Spirit categories such as Vodka, Mixers, Liqueur and Whiskey all saw significant growth during this time, with Vodka having the overall most volume sales. Fueling this growth was undoubtedly Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Basic Vodka. Tito’s is always king of the spirits segment. While it didn't see the same growth as other spirits, it had the second-most overall volume sales out of Beer, Wine AND Spirits! Now that’s worth noting!

Hair of the Dog Remedies are Tried and True

When it came to Liqueur and Mixers, Baileys Original Irish Cream and Cutwater Mild Bloody Mary Mixer were go-to’s. Interestingly enough, Cutwater tripled in overall volume sales and grew a whopping 650%! Were beverage buyers preparing to serve patrons a little hair of the dog after all of the holiday debauchery? We'll let you decide. 

The Old Fashioned Remains a Holiday Staple

When it came to whiskey, Bulleit Bourbon and Skrewball were hot ticket items. Bulleit more than doubled in volume sales and grew by 65%. Complex and bold, this whiskey plays into the flavors of the holiday season, easily making its way into everything from old fashioneds, to hot toddy's. Skrewball, on the other hand, has only been on the market since 2018. Since then it has seen explosive growth. Last december alone, the flavored whiskey increased in volume sales by 89%.

Key Spirit Trend Takeaways

Offering cocktails for pickup or delivery could be a lifeline for bars and restaurants this holiday season. That could mean making your signature cocktail and bottling it up to-go. Better yet, create holiday hangover kits with batched Bloody Marys for over-imbibed patrons. For those under statewide restrictions, now’s the time to let your walk-up window shine. Literally. Maybe put some lights around it. 



Stick to your Sparkling Staples

At 44%, the wine segment came in second place for WoW growth, but was lowest in overall volume sales. Beverage buyers were stocking up on wine, but sticking to their seasonal, sparkling staples.

Sparkling Wine Sparks Major Growth

Unsurprisingly, Sparkling Wine showed the most growth at 62%, likely fueled by New Years Eve. What is surprising though, is what followed—Rosé, which grew 60% from December 10th to the 23rd last year, proving its staying power past the summer months.

So what exactly were beverage buyers stocking up on? J. Roget Brut American Champagne. The sparkling wine led the ENTIRE Wine segment during the two week period for overall volume sales and grew by 66%. Similarly, La Marca Prosecco saw an increase in growth during this time. 

Red Wine on Top Overall

Red may be the top-selling wine category overall, but it showed the least amount of WoW growth. This suggests that beverage buyers weren’t stocking up on more red wine than they usually do. Notable wines include Meiomi Pinot Noir and Peter Vella Burgundy, both of which saw significant growth.

Key Wine Trend Takeaways

This year, make the 375mL bottle your best friend. COVID or not, your patrons will still want to celebrate the new year. Consider making New Year's Eve to-go kits with champagne or sparkling wine. Another idea? Upsell a nice bottle of wine with one of your specials. But whatever you do, don't forget to advertise it on social media!

So, Now What?

This year you’ve probably had to make more pivots than Ross Geller trying to get a couch up a narrow stairwell. And if we’re being metaphorical here, he gets the couch up to the top of the stairwell, and so will you. 

Take advantage of loosened regulations by offering to-go friendly cocktails, beverage kits, mini bottles of wine and canned beer. Even if your state doesn’t have restrictions on indoor dining, it’s time to think about how to cater to the crowd that would rather dine in than out. For many, this is a rare opportunity to exist both as an on and off premise establishment. 

Access the Holiday Quick-Order Guide

Maggie Mahar

Writer and Chicago native. Has a greeting card for every occasion. Plant mom and Provi employee since 2017. Marketing Manager.


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