Retailers have been trying to predict what Q4 might look like this year, amidst smaller holiday celebrations, less travel, and the potential of a second wave of Covid-related lockdowns, so October served as an early indicator for sales trends through the end of 2020. The news is largely positive, with Halloween sales spikes showing consumer desire to celebrate occasions, and share increases for new categories and brands indicating a craving for discovery. Learn what’s ahead for the rest of Q4 with these insights from Drizly’s October sales.

Shakeups Within Fastest-Growing Categories 

After months of ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail dominance, three new beverages have joined Drizly’s fastest-growing categories in October: mead/honey wine, soju, and mezcal. Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights, attributes the high year-over-year share increases for mead/honey wine to increased product availability and range. “The number of mead/honey wine SKUs sold on Drizly doubled in October compared to the same time period in 2019,” she says, “pointing to new product offerings, particularly among craft producers.” Soju’s growth was driven by consumer awareness and interest in the typically Korean-origin spirit (one of Drizly’s top soju brands, TY KU, is distilled in Japan).

Mezcal’s high year-over-year share increases in October were likely buoyed by the growth of tequila throughout much of 2020. “Both spirits are agave-based and of Mexican origin,” says Paquette. “Additionally, mezcal has benefited from increased brand awareness in some cases.” Several top-selling tequila brands — including Casamigos, Clase Azul, and Dos Hombres — also have mezcal products.

Top Brands Within Drizly’s Fastest-Growing Categories, October 2020

  • Mead/Honey Wine: Dansk, Chaucers, Redstone Meadery
  • Soju: Jinro, Chum Churum, TY KU
  • Mezcal: Del Maguey, Ilegal, Casamigos

Halloween Sales Spikes and Spirits Gains

In anticipation of a different kind of holiday season this year, amidst the impacts of Covid-19, Halloween was the first major OND occasion to indicate what retailers might expect for the upcoming 2020 holidays. Sales on Drizly from Friday, October 30 to Sunday, November 1 were up 19 percent compared to the average sales of the previous four October weekends, and on the holiday itself, sales were up 26.4 percent compared to the average sales of the previous four Saturdays.

“The sales spike we saw on Halloween weekend this year, which was in line with the spike in 2019, was a sign that consumers are still celebrating occasions in 2020,” says Paquette. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve have also historically driven sales spikes, so retailers should be prepared for similar upticks this year. 

Halloween sales also drove significant category shifts versus both last year and October overall. Liquor was the big winner of the holiday, holding 45 percent of share in 2020 (compared to 42 percent of overall October sales and 37 percent of Halloween 2019 sales), indicating that retailers should be well-stocked on spirits through the end of 2020.

Wine, Beer, and Spirits Breakout Brands

Breakout brands within the spirits category reflect a mix of both year-to-date and seasonal trends; both Cutwater Spirits, which has become known for its RTD cocktails, and Noah’s Mill Bourbon saw some of the fastest sales growth among all spirits brands. Beer’s October breakout brands were all craft breweries: Mighty Squirrel, Offshoot, and Zero Gravity were among the fastest-growing beer brands in the country. Paquette points out that each craft brewery counted IPAs (specifically New England/Hazy IPAs and Imperial/Double IPAs) among their top products, indicating consumers’ increasing demand for these beer styles.

Wine brand breakouts indicate that consumers were already beginning to prepare for the holiday season in October; sparkling producers Schramsberg and G.H. Mumm were both among the fastest-growing wine brands last month. “As we move into holiday and gifting seasons,” says Paquette, “it appears that consumers may be trying new brands within the sparkling wine category.”

Customers are Increasingly Reaching for Bottled Beers

During the month of October, Drizly customers gravitated slightly more towards bottled beers than they did to cans. Though cans still comprise more beer sales than bottles (66.7 percent versus 32.6 percent), month-over-month, share of beer sales shifted nearly a percentage point from cans to bottles. “Though the shift is small relative to total share,” says Paquette, “it points to effects of the aluminum can shortage that is impacting beer producers, particularly in the craft space. It may continue to impact sales in the coming months.”