U.S. Alcohol Sales Soar in Third Week of March

U.S. alcohol sales soared in the third week of March. The lockdowns stemming from the coronavirus apparently made many need a drink.
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If you thought the coronavirus would drive many of us to drink, you’re right.

U.S. alcoholic-beverage sales soared 55% in the third week of March from the year- earlier week, according to research firm Nielsen.

That was the week in which several states locked down their residents with shelter-in-place orders.

Those lockdowns plus the strength of internet retail have equaled online alcohol sales greatly exceeding brick-and-mortar sales.

But even in the brick-and-mortar world, many states have granted alcohol stores exclusions from the mandatory closing of non-essential outlets. And many grocery stores sell booze, beer and wine too.

Americans apparently like the hard stuff. Liquor, such as whiskey, gin and premixed cocktails, led the pack with a sales jump of 75% from last year. Wine sales soared 66%, and beer sales gained 42%.

But Danelle Kosmal, vice president of Nielsen's beverage-alcohol practice, cautions that the week of March 16 might turn out to be an aberration.

The coming weeks will be a "better indicator of the new normal in how consumers are responding to the crisis," as people go through the alcohol they already bought and many Americans get laid off, she said, according to CNN.

Meanwhile, Constellation Brands  (STZ) - Get Report on Friday is scheduled to report earnings. Its brands include Corona beer as well as wine and liquor.

Cowen's Vivien Azer rates Constellation outperform with a $150 price target. 

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020 ended in February, she expects the company earned $1.64 a share. 

That's in line with consensus, given that "the real escalation in social-distancing measures did not start to take hold until March," she wrote in a note.

She's particularly awaiting management commentary on how Covid-19 will affect fiscal 2021 results. 

At last check Constellation shares were off 5.5% at $129.39.