Heavy discounting in the multiples may have triggered a decline in value sales for the two leading festive alcohol brands in the run-up to Christmas.
In the four weeks to Christmas Eve, value in the number one and two brands, Stella Artois and Baileys, declined by 6% and 5% respectively to £61.7m and £41.2m compared with the same period last year, according to exclusive research carried out by ACNielsen.
Both brands were subject to aggressive Christmas pricing wars between the
multiple grocers that began as early as October. The total alcohol market increased in value by 1%. Stuart MacFarlane, MD of InBev UK, the producer of Stella, said: “Christmas 2005 promised a lot, but delivered a lot less. The industry will look back on it as another wasted opportunity to drive the value of the category.”
In The Grocer’s own eight-week Pricewatch survey, discounting on Baileys - which was the subject of a £5m Christmas ad campaign by brand owner Diageo - became more aggressive as Christmas approached.
Andrew Grant, head of beers, wines and spirits at Somerfield, said: “Pricing for Baileys was very keen across the marketplace. It is one of those must-have Christmas items for consumers. Retailers therefore see it as an important beacon, which is why pricing has become so competitive.”
In comparison, Hardys and Blossom Hill, which were subject to less aggressive pricing, experienced value sales increases of 19% and 11% to £33m and £22.8m respectively over the same four-week period.
Meanwhile, the wine category experienced an increase in value sales of 5% to £470m compared with last year and the beer sector increased by 1% overall to £333.5m.
The full results of the research will be published in The Grocer next week (January 28).

Sonya Hook
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