Money Matters - Simplified

Brand name beer shows recent gains

Chicago -- Grocery store sales of three of the four largest U.S. beer brands have headed higher in recent weeks, counter to a recessionary trend, a research group said.

SymphonyIRI, which tracks grocery scanner data, said grocery store annual sales of Coors Light were up 1 percent as of Oct. 3, but sales of Miller Lite, Bud Light and Budweiser had dropped between 2 percent and 8 percent, The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday.

For the past month, however, sales of all brands except Budweiser have gone up with a range from Budweiser down 4 percent to Coors Light up 5 percent.

MillerCoors Chief Executive Officer Leo Kiely said the recession had caught up with the industry with sales especially off among 20- to 39-year-old males who have been hurt by the high unemployment rate.
"We're in unprecedented water in the beer business," he said.

The industry, he said, has held its own through economic ups and downs. "For 30 years this business has been on a march and for all of us, the brewers, the distributors and our retailers, it's really unusual to have a downturn impact beer the way it has," he said.

Even in the recent recession, the worst downturn since the Great Depression, beer sales "held up pretty well until last September," he said.

"Some of that has to do with the dynamic of unemployment checks," he said.

The industry will not see a sustained recovery until the employment situation improves, he said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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