Forecast 2018: The Outlook on Beer
NATIONAL REPORT — Although the meteoric rise of craft beer has slowed in recent years, convenience store retailers still view it as a sales driver for the beer and malt beverages category, especially as changing demographics continue to shift consumer preferences.
According to the 2018 Convenience Store News Forecast Study, more than half of retailers (52.6 percent) expect their per-store beer volume to rise in 2018, while 42.1 percent expect it to stay the same. Dollar sales in the category are expected to fare slightly better, as 57.1 percent of operators expect a rise and 37.8 percent expect the same.
Retailers project the category will see net sales growth of around 2 percent this year.
Along with craft beer, which retailers say will continue to see more modest increases than in years past, other significant category trends include seasonal offerings and new flavors that answer the millennial generation’s desire for increased variety.
In certain regions of the United States, regulatory changes are prompting increased foot traffic as consumers are now able to buy more types of alcoholic beverages in the convenience channel.
Retailers also believe the way beer is merchandised in the store is a significant factor in sales and thus expect to see more locations add beer caves and growler stations.
Potential stumbling blocks for the beer category include a consumer shift toward wine and liquor over beer. Craft beer may also suffer from oversaturation as it competes for limited shelf space, according to some retailers.
"The market has been so saturated with craft beers — some not so good," one retailer remarked. "I see that category dropping off a bit."
The 16th annual CSNews Forecast Study includes a Retailer Forecast and Supplier Forecast, both based on the results of a survey fielded in November 2017. Participants were asked to predict 2018 sales per store for a variety of product categories, as well as to share their opinions on overall business, economic and consumer trends. The Forecast Study also provides dollar and unit volume projections in key c-store product categories based on data from various sources, including Nielsen for category sales history; TDLinx for store counts; and government sources for motor fuel volume and pricing data.
Come back tomorrow to CSNews.com for the 2018 Packaged Beverages forecast.