Not the way anyone wanted to close out 2016 off-premise. But volume dipped 3.1%, $$ sales -2.2% in IRI multi-outlet + convenience for 4 wks thru Christmas Day. That made Q4 volume basically flat, $$ up just 1.5%. Volume softened pretty much across the board (key segments, top players, brands, etc) in closing mo. But one trend really intensified in Dec: softer pricing. In Q4, avg price for beer in MULC up 32 cents/case, 1.4%, already well below 52-wk avg price increase of 50 cents/case 2.2%. In Dec, avg price up just 21 cents/case less than 1%. Subpremiums led downward pressure, with avg prices off about nickel/case for 4 and 12 wks. But FMB pricing off about a dime/case in Dec too and premiums up less than a dime/case, just 0.4%. Yet it sure doesn’t look like softer pricing drove any kind of overall volume pop. Subpremiums -1.1% for 12 wks, slightly better than -1.6% trend for full yr. Even craft prices, up about a buck/case for the yr, rose just 41 cents/case in Dec.
Key trends in Q4. Import and superpremium volume stayed pretty strong: each up 7%, pretty much in line with 2016 trends. Craft up less than 3% in final qtr, and ended yr up less than 5% (as IRI defines segment). So while imports gained 0.9 share of volume in Q4, superpremiums (essentially Michelob Ultra) +0.4, craft eked out less than 0.2 share gain for the period. Mainstream brands (premium + subpremium) shed 1.2 share of volume in Q4, 1.5 share of $$. FMBs took a hit in latter part of yr: volume and $$ each down 3% in Q4. And cider continued down double-digits to close out 2016 in scans. Brewer and big-brand wise, Q4 not that much different than previous periods: AB and MC continued down, each losing about a half-share last 12 wks, just a bit less share erosion than they saw for full yr in IRI MULC. Constellation put up near 14% volume gain in Q4, picking up almost full share. HUSA off 0.9%, slightly better than full-yr trend. But Boston and Pabst each down more sharply in Q4 than YTD. Boston had easy comp, Pabst had very tuff one. Mike’s, Diageo Beer and Yuengling ended yr on up note in IRI scans. Really mixed bag for craft: Lagunitas, Stone, Bells, SweetWater, Founders, Firestone Walker, New Glarus and Dogfish Head each up double-digits in Q4. Sierra, New Belgium, Gambrinus, Craft Brew Alliance and Deschutes each down low to mid-singles.