In the midst of a months-long boycott against Bud Light, some experts have forecast that the Anheuser-Busch owned brand will soon lose coveted retail shelf space as sales continue to slide.
Beer industry experts, wholesalers, and a former Anheuser-Busch executive told ABC News Friday that places like 7-Eleven, QuikTrip, and Walmart may decrease Bud Light’s refrigerator space in stores.
“During a busy shopping period on a Friday or Saturday night, if you don’t have the beer available cold on the shelf, consumers pick something else,” former Anheuser-Busch InBev executive Anson Frericks, a frequent critic of his former company, told the outlet. He noted that shelf space is “the single largest determinant of sales in a store,” and warned there will be a “dramatic shift” for Bud Light.
Dave Williams, vice president of analytics and insights at Bump Williams Consulting, said that retailers often watch for sales figures to determine what brands would be given the best shelf space.
“There’s explosive growth on one side and sharp decline on the other,” Mr. Williams said, according to the broadcaster. “This does have that ripple effect where if Bud Light loses space on the shelf, that could make it a longer-term endeavor to claw back to where they were if they’re ever able to do that in the first place.”
According to a report from Drinks Market Analysis from several years ago, about 80 percent of beer sales occur at retailers or similar locations where consumers take the product home. The other 20 percent of sales occur at restaurants and bars.
Over a month period ending in early September, sales for Bud Light dropped about 27 percent year-over-year, according to Bump Williams Consulting. Those figures are consistent with Bud Light’s previous weekly sales figures since the boycott erupted in early April.
The Epoch Times has contacted Anheuser-Busch InBev for comment on the report Friday.
A general manager at a Wisconsin Anheuser-Busch distributor, who wasn’t named, told ABC that retailers do not expect a “drastic change” anytime soon. But he warned that the Bud Light “boycott has lasted longer than anybody thought,” adding, “Every retailer has their own opinion for what sales warrant on their shelves. Time will tell.”
Last month, Anheuser-Busch’s American division revealed in its quarterly earnings report that it lost about $395 million amid the boycott and that U.S. revenue dropped about 10 percent year-over-year. Meanwhile, Bud Light lost its No. 1 spot to Modelo Especial, which is owned by Constellation Brands in the United States, in June.
Adding more fuel to the fire, a beer industry expert, Harry Schumacher of Beer Business Daily, told Fox News some Bud Light drinkers may never come back and have switched to other brands.
The boycott, he warned, is “actually worse than just lost sales because now it’s getting to the point where it’s becoming systemic within the industry, and they’re losing the confidence of the retailers, and that’s when it starts getting bad.”
It all started in April when Bud Light made a beer can featuring the face of transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, who then posted the promotional item on social media. Backlash came quickly, and some conservative musicians and influencers called for a boycott, accusing Bud Light of abandoning its traditional consumer base.
Musician Kid Rock was seen in a viral video shooting up cans of the beer, while several country singers said they wouldn’t serve it at their bars or on tour. Former President Donald Trump also accused the firm of caving to leftists and urged supporters that it’s “time to beat the radical left at their own game.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis later urged the state’s pension manager to investigate Anheuser-Busch and potentially take legal action against the firm over the incident. Like President Trump, Mr. DeSantis is also a GOP presidential candidate.
Weeks later, Anheuser-Busch confirmed that two top Bud Light executives took a leave of absence the company, namely after a Bud Light marketing executive, Alissa Heinerscheid, gave an interview saying that she wanted to move the brand away from an “out-of-touch” and “fratty” image. Reports have indicated that she was associated with the company’s Mulvaney campaign.
In an earnings call with investors in May, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeris appeared to distance the beer brand from the transgender controversy and said there was no “formal campaign.”
“This was the result of one can,” he said during the call. “It was not made for production or sale to general public. It was one post, not a formal campaign or advertisement.”
Months later, in August, Mr. Doukeris told investors that Bud Light is “working hard to build it back and to earn back consumers” and worked with a third-party researcher to engage with about 170,000 customers in the U.S.
“Most consumers surveyed are favorable towards the Bud Light brand and approximately 80 percent are favorable or neutral,” the firm said.