NEW YORK — The sun was shining on the convenience channel this past Memorial Day holiday weekend as convenience stores rang up strong beverage sales.
Based on feedback from its c-store retailer contacts, Wells Fargo Securities LLC maintains it positive outlook on the beverage category and remains "upbeat heading into the all-important summer selling season," said Bonnie Herzog, managing director of tobacco, beverage and convenience store research at Wells Fargo Securities.
"What's more, strength was broad based, with category growth particularly strong over the holiday weekend across everything from import beer to energy beverages," she added.
Import beer sales were up 9.3 percent year over year, and energy drinks were up 8.4 percent with retailers "very upbeat" about Red Bull, Bang and other emerging energy brands, Herzog noted.
"Furthermore, we were also encouraged by strong performance across bottled water and sports drinks," she said.
According to a Wells Fargo Securities' survey of beverage retailers representing approximately 15,000 c-stores, overall beverage sales were up 4.6 percent over Memorial Day weekend. This acceleration from a 3 percent to 4 percent in 2018, reflecting strong consumer sentiment, favorable weather, and gas prices below the $3 per gallon threshold across most of the United States.
The holiday weekend sales were balanced across the non-alcoholic segment (up 4.7 percent year over year) and the alcoholic segment (up 4 percent year over year), which Herzog called encouraging.
In addition, promotions were rational, up 1.8 percent over last year.
"What's more, retailers are gearing up for an even hotter summer, with expectations for summer traffic of [a] 5.4-percent increase — a significant acceleration vs. [the] 3.2-percent increase last year," she said.
Herzog noted that "retailers are increasingly bullish on the energy category overall and now expect the category to grow nearly 10 percent in 2019, up significantly from expectations for 6-percent growth" in Wells Fargo Securities' first quarter Beverage Buzz survey.