weather icon Clear

Corona beer maker CEO says coronavirus not impacting sales

Updated March 4, 2020 - 10:08 am

The top boss of Corona said Wednesday in Las Vegas that sales of the popular beer are just fine and consumers realize there is no tie between the drink and the deadly coronavirus.

Bill Newlands, president and CEO of Corona maker Constellation Brands, said despite “a fair amount of misinformation that’s been circulating … our business is just fine.”

Speaking at an investor presentation at Caesars Palace, Newlands said the company has received “numerous inquiries” about the virus. Business is ahead year-to-date, and there are no supply issues for the product either.

“We haven’t seen any impact,” he said.

More than a decade ago, the U.S. pork industry took a financial hit amid fears of the deadly “swine” flu, which, as an industry group stressed, had nothing to do with pigs. Today, the coronavirus boasts a similar name — and no other connection — to the top-selling beer, but there’s no indication that business is slumping.

Several Las Vegas booze slingers report no noticeable changes in sales volume due to the virus.

“We’re all good,” said Denny James, marketing director of Señor Frog’s at Treasure Island, adding the party spot has seen “no fluctuation whatsoever” in sales of Corona.

Scott Hanning, head beer buyer for Lee’s Discount Liquor, said the liquor-store chain has “not yet seen any adverse effect on the sales of Corona.”

“It’s doing well,” he said.

Representatives of casino giant MGM Resorts International, nightclub operator Hakkasan Group and Cabo Wabo Cantina, in Miracle Mile Shops, said they had seen no effects either.

Other companies with bar operations declined to say whether Corona sales have changed lately.

‘Address unfounded concerns’

Nationally, Corona Extra is the best-selling imported beer and sixth-best-selling beer overall, Constellation has reported.

With the deadly new coronavirus spreading around the globe from China, interest in the search term “corona beer” jumped past typical levels lately, according to Google. 5W Public Relations, a New York PR agency, also claimed in a Feb. 27 news release that results of a recent phone survey showed there is “no question that Corona beer is suffering because of the coronavirus.”

The firm said its survey of 737 American beer drinkers found 38 percent “would not buy Corona under any circumstances now.”

It did not return a call from the Review-Journal seeking more information on the poll.

The day after 5W issued its press release, Constellation released a statement “to address unfounded concerns” about the virus’ impact on its business.

It said sales of Corona Extra “remain strong” and were up 5 percent in the U.S. during a recent four-week stretch.

As of Wednesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University, there were about 94,250 confirmed cases globally of the new coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as “coronavirus disease 2019,” or COVID-19. There are no confirmed cases in Nevada.

Johns Hopkins reported more than 3,200 deaths and 51,000-plus recoveries.

‘Swine’ flu

Corona beer isn’t the first consumer product to feel the spillover effects of an unrelated public health crisis.

In May 2009, the National Pork Producers Council said the industry was “nearing the brink of financial disaster.” Hog prices had tumbled as the recession ruined the economy, and fell further after the “swine” flu outbreak became a major news story, the group said.

The virus was “not of pig origin” and “never has been found in pigs anywhere in the world,” it said.

Nearly 12,500 people died in the U.S. from April 2009 to April 2010 due to that virus, formally known as H1N1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bart Watson, chief economist of the Brewers Association, tweeted last week that when his dad texted him about whether the coronavirus was “pulling down Corona beer, I knew it was finally time to look at the data.”

Corona sales over the past four weeks were up 3.1 percent by volume versus a year earlier, he wrote.

“So no effect. Carry on,” he added.

Watson, who posted the comments the day after 5W issued its news release, told the Review-Journal that there had been “a lot of chatter” about the virus’ supposed impact on Corona sales but no “hard analysis.”

“People want to see real data and understand the real story,” he said.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Heidi Knapp Rinella contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Status of renters and homeowners during COVID19 pandemic - Video
Rj reporter Eli Segall discusses how COVID19 is affecting renters and homeowners in Nevada. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Health experts: Smoking in casinos should be banned - Video
Experts say smoking can spread the COVID-19 coronavirus. But not because of airborne particulates. The virus could spread from a smoker’s likely pattern of fingers-to-mouth-to-gaming-device. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Knights’ empathy questioned
A sports talk host called this week a public relations disaster for the Knights and a tourism official said it may shorten the honeymoon period between the team and its devoted fan base.
Chinese visitors in Las Vegas - Video
There were 236,970 visitors from China in Las Vegas in 2018, according to data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Resorts World Las Vegas lights up - Video
Construction crews tested exterior lights at Resorts World on the Las Vegas Strip, May 19. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Station Casinos releases health and safety plan for reopening - Video
Station Casinos rolled out new health and safety protocols Monday morning, May 18, including the use of thermal scanners, testing all employees for COVID-19 and “enhanced cleaning technologies.” (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Maverick Helicopters offers 250 free tours for two - VIDEO
Maverick Helicopters will restart its flights on Friday, according to a news release. To celebrate, Maverick will give away 250 flights for two with its “Our Vegas” promotion. (James Schaffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts to bring back free parking on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
MGM Resorts on Monday announced free parking for all guests at its Strip resorts for the foreseeable future. New York-New York and Bellagio are the first announced hotels to reopen for casino business and return to the golden days of no-cost parking.
Laughlin’s iconic Colorado Belle to stay closed indefinitely - VIDEO
The Colorado Belle, an iconic hotel-casino on the Colorado River in Laughlin, will stay closed for the foreseeable future and lay off its 400 workers. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Laughlin’s iconic Colorado Belle to stay closed indefinitely; 400 to lose jobs - VIDEO
The Colorado Belle, an iconic hotel-casino on the Colorado River in Laughlin, will stay closed for the foreseeable future and lay off its 400 workers.
MSG Sphere construction site remains dormant - Video
The MSG Sphere at The Venetian construction site remains sidelined and representatives of MSG Entertainment offered no updates on when workers might return. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Gaming Control Board keeping reopening plans confidential
The state Gaming Control Board requires every licensee, from the megaresorts to the corner gas station convenience store slot machine operators, to submit reopening plans, but they intend to keep them confidential.
Natural turf added to Allegiant Stadium field tray
The massive field tray, which will roll in and out of the stadium, has a fresh layer of natural grass turf for Raiders home games.
Players show up at Gila River Casino in Arizona - Video
Gila River Casino at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona, is packed with players on the casino’s reopening day, Friday, May 15, 2020. (Elizabeth BrumleyLas Vegas Review-Journal)
Casinos reopening in Phoenix area - Video
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino reopened in Maricopa, Arizona, on Friday, May 15, 2020. It was closed during the government shutdown for coronavirus. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Entertainment to phase In reopenings - Video
Caesars Entertainment, the operator of Caesars Palace and eight other Las Vegas resorts, on Monday announced it would phase in reopenings with a comprehensive safety and health plan with employees wearing masks across its network of properties. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Gaming Commission meeting
Full meeting of the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
Sisolak says businesses will begin reopening under phase 1 - VIDEO
The first phase of reopening Nevada’s businesses will begin Saturday, May 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson winery reacts to Sisolak's economic plan - VIDEO
Governor Sisolak's reopening plan is easier said than done for the only winery in Clark County. Grape Expectations is trying to figure out how to open up shop when they are three businesses in one. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Southwest requiring face coverings
In an effort to increase safety for passengers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, Southwest Airlines is updating protocols that include requiring passengers to wear face coverings beginning May 11.
Locals rush to reopened tennis courts
Daniel Nunez and Sarah Germain made immediate plans to go to their local tennis court, Darling Tennis Center, when they received an email that the facility would open on May 1.
Businesses in Henderson begin reopening - VIDEO
In downtown Henderson and at The District at Green Valley Ranch, small shops are opening their doors for business. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM CEO: Bellagio, New York-New York to reopen first after shutdown - VIDEO
The head of MGM Resorts International isn’t sure when he’ll be able to open properties in Las Vegas, but said Thursday that New York-New York and Bellagio will likely be the first to open their doors. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New visitation report shows plunging numbers for March
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported Thursday that convention attendance fell 54.8 percent to 249,800. March normally is one of the city’s strongest months for conventions and trade shows.
US jobless claims climb to 30 million in 6 weeks - VIDEO
The Labor Department released the tally of the most recent jobless claims on Thursday. First-time claims for the week ending on April 25 increased by more than 3.84 million. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Venetian to have EMTs, thermal cameras upon reopening - VIDEO
The hotel-casino operator, Las Vegas Sands Corp., announced updated protocols on April 28 for when its Las Vegas properties reopen, sometime after May 31. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Unions contracts expiring - VIDEO
RJ investigations reporter Arthur Kane and Renee Summerour discuss the uncertainty of union contracts expiring in June, and how the extent of the financial damage from the crisis will make it difficult for unions and governments to negotiate collective bargaining agreements, possibly sending many to arbitration. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Strip hoteliers outline cleaning plans upon reopening - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has yet to confirm when casinos will be able to reopen, but operators are already preparing for the day they’ll have to reassure guests their properties are clean and safe amid the virus outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Treasure Island plans to reopen May 15 - VIDEO
Treasure Island is planning to open its doors to guests May 15, despite Gov. Steve Sisolak saying Wednesday that gaming shutdowns, currently set to end April 30, will probably be extended an undetermined amount of time. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders logo goes up on Henderson headquarters - VIDEO
The iconic Raiders emblem gets installed on the team's headquarters and practice facility in Henderson on April 22, 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hertz files for bankruptcy protection citing debt amid coronavirus

Hertz filed for bankruptcy protection Friday, unable to withstand the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled global travel and with it, the heavily indebted 102-year-old car rental company’s business.