Tuff Dec trends for beer biz continued into early 2017. With Q1 nearly in the books, sluggish start in Nielsen all-outlet scans and available shipments data differ sharply from last yr’s Q1. In data thru Mar 25, just one week shy of full qtr, volume down 0.9% and $$ sales up an anemic 0.3% in Nielsen scans. In Q1 last yr, industry volume up 2.3% and $$ trend a rosy +5.1%. Wha’ happened? Basically, imports kept pace and economy trends improved a bit, but premiums declined at faster pace, craft really slowed and FMBs reversed compared to Q1 last yr; cider still down high single-digits. Note too, while biz got avg price pop of +2.8% in Q1 last yr from trade up/price hikes, it’s just 1.2% so far this yr. Meanwhile, Jan-Feb shipments considerably softer than scans. US biz -2.4%, 750K bbls, with domestic brewers down 4% and imports up just 1% for 2 mos. Compares to near 2% gain in Jan-Feb shipments trend last yr. Wha’ happened? Combo of Easter timing (pushed to mid-Apr), loss of Leap Day, crappy Calif weather and inventory drawdown (AB and MC inventories higher at end of 2016) blamed for blahs across board. Will there be bounce back?
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