September’s sales offer interesting takeaways for retailers looking to prepare for Q4 trends, from the continued growth of non-alcoholic beer to declining hard seltzer share amidst competition from ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails. Explore Labor Day Weekend category shifts, new breakout brands, and more with these five insights from September 2021 sales.

September’s Highest-Growth Categories

Within the beer category, sales of American strong ale were up year-over-year in September; top sellers were Flying Dog Double Dog Double Pale Ale, Samuel Adams Utopias, and Arrogant Bastard Ale. 

Orange wine was the highest-growing wine subcategory last month, driven by the Spanish orange wine Gulp Hablo, which wasn’t even among the top 10 best-sellers in September 2020. As it did last October, soju experienced the highest year-over-year share increase within the spirits category, driven by the variety of flavors from the brands Jinro and Chum Churum.

Labor Day Weekend Shifts

Several interesting trends unfolded over Labor Day Weekend 2021, which could indicate longer-lasting shifts through the holiday season and into 2022. Over Labor Day Weekend itself, Monday saw an increase in order share (up from 17 percent share in 2020 to 19 percent in 2021), while both Friday and Saturday experienced share declines year over year.

Within alcohol categories, liquor gained share year-over-year (45 percent in 2021 vs. 42 percent in 2020) largely driven by growth in both tequila and RTD cocktails. Each subcategory experienced a share increase of three percentage points (to 20 percent and seven percent, respectively). Within the tequila category, silver/blanco tequila lost share over Labor Day Weekend 2020 (from 58 percent in 2020 to 53 percent in 2021), while reposado and añejo both gained share.

Within the RTD category, High Noon and Cutwater maintained their No. 1 and No. 2 positions from last year, but On the Rocks replaced Jose Cuervo as the third-best selling RTD brand. Canteen Spirits, Buzzballz, and The Long Drink Company also saw share gains within the top 10 brands year-over-year. Conversely, whiskey share declined over last year (from 33 percent to 31 percent), while vodka remained flat.

The wine category remained flat year-over-year, with one percentage point of share shifting from white wine to red wine and two percentage points in share shifting from rosé to Champagne and sparkling wine. 

The beer category experienced share declines year-over-year (from 21 percent to 18 percent), though it saw gains over its overall August 2021 share. Interestingly, hard seltzer lost one percentage point share year-over-year, while light lager saw gains of three percentage points. Though it remains small, non-alcoholic beer saw significant growth over the long weekend compared to last year, up from .4 percent share in 2020 to one percent share in 2021. 

Product Breakouts Reflect Consumer Trends

The breakout wine, beer, and spirits products in September reflected some of the most important trends of the year. Rancho La Gloria, a RTD, multi-serve format, margarita brand, was one of the fastest-growing spirits brands year-over-year, indicating the continued potential for classic RTDs. McBride Sisters Collection, a Black-owned, women-owned brand that has been increasingly sought out over the past year, was also the fastest-growing wine brand in September, led by its Black Girl Magic red blend, rosé, and California Riesling.

As it was in March, the non-alcoholic Athletic Brewing Co. was one of the fastest-growing beer brands in September. Its top five SKUs—including Run Wild Non-Alcoholic IPA, Upside Dawn Non-Alcoholic Golden Ale, Free Wave Non-Alcoholic Hazy IPA, Non-Alcoholic Limited Time Offering, and Non-Alcoholic Seasonal Offering—all experienced growth last month.

Market Insights: Charlotte, North Carolina

Last month, Charlotte, North Carolina was one of the fastest-growing markets on Drizly. Retailers may only sell and deliver beer and wine through Drizly in the state of North Carolina, so wine comprises 63 percent of share and beer comprises 36 percent of share in 2021 to date.

Drizly users in Charlotte tend to reach for local products; 11 percent share of products sold in Charlotte are from North Carolina, compared to less than a percentage point across the country. The market also skews more towards weekday ordering over weekend ordering, with Friday holding the largest share of sales (20 percent), followed by Thursday (17 percent), Monday (16 percent), and Tuesday (15 percent).

Consumer Interest in Hard Seltzer Wanes

“One the hottest and most talked-about categories may have hit its peak, as we are beginning to see year-over-year share declines,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. Hard seltzer accounted for 6.9 percent of overall sales share in September 2021 compared to 8.2 percent in September 2020. Some of this can be attributed to competition from RTD cocktails, which rose from 1.3 percent of share in September 2020 to 2.4 percent of share in September 2021.