Supermarkets' share of Christmas drinks sales hit a record £1.49bn, just under three quarters of the £2.07bn off-trade.
They notched up sales at the expense of the multiple specialist off-licence chains and independents' stores, which saw sales drop by 14% and 9% respectively. According to ACNielsen, research for November and December 2002, published today exclusively in The Grocer, multiple specialists' share of sales dipped to £224m, while independents' combined sales were down to £261m.
Once again beer proved to be the main area where retailers flexed their muscles to squeeze margins and lower prices.
ACNielsen's business manager, Gavin Humphreys, said: "Prices were more competitive than ever and the discounting was definitely harder than before. But First Quench put its prices up before Christmas so it wasn't fighting on price. The multiple specialists are normally out of line with the multiple grocers on pricing, but even more so this year."
Humphreys added: "The majority of beer is still being sold in pubs and bars and the grocers see the on-trade as a legitimate target."
Wine's meteoric rise continued, claiming £627m of sales more than a 30% share of all alcohol sold over the eight week period. Spirits took the second biggest tranche at 28.8% or £597m of the festive market.
Stella Artois continued to dominate the list of top 20 drinks brands with BRL Hardy's wine brands making the brand the fourth bestselling tipple overall, and the top wine brand.