The past two months have been a rough ride for wine sales. Shop sales have been booming while bars and restaurants are hardly making any profit at all, providing very little takeout – sometimes even wine to go. Wine experts have tried to monitor off-premise information. Still, they are also working with major wholesalers in the wine industry to give out information about the wine market in general.
As a wine enthusiast, I created questions for some of the country’s major wine sellers to answer, queries about how the coronavirus pandemic is currently affecting the wine industry, why people seem to be drinking more nowadays, and a lot more.
How has wine intake been impacted in the United States in the past months, and how will it be affected in the next few weeks?
Generally, off-premise sales of wine are most probably substantial at this time to contradict the prevalent drop of on-premise trade. This is based on significant wine company sales across the globe. We are seeing more consumers turning to larger-sized bottles than before. For instance, sales of boxed wines in 3-liter sizes have increased by a whopping 80% in April – to the advantage of brands selling larger sized packages. The actual overall consumption for the weeks to come has yet to be determined and calculated.
How is COVID-19 making an impact on the wine market so far?
From the whole month of March and April, from which the coronavirus has profoundly affected consumer behavior around the country, off-premise wine sales in major wine companies have increased by more than 30%. Indeed, there is a remarkable volume of channel shifting – from on-premise to off-premise, more time shopping to less frequent shopping, tasting spaces to the consumer directly, and utilizing larger sized packs.
Finally, for the whole four weeks of April 2020, as compared to the same month last 2019, there is a 12%-increase in households buying wine off-premise, and money spent to purchase wine for every buyer went up to 15%. Total commercial alcohol sales bought through online stores continue to increase amazingly by more than 400% year-over-year for April, reflecting the fastest rising sector so far in terms of percentage.
Why are consumers possibly drinking more and more wine and other spirits, and do you anticipate this to persist for months?
Provided that restrictions are still in place, although some will be relaxed than usual, with people still practicing precautions until a vaccine is invented to cure COVID-19, the sales of wine from on to off-premise will prevail. Similarly, while retail trades typically turn into consumption for the long term, there will probably be persistent hoarding of wines and continued over-shopping patterns for a while.
How can restaurants and vendors sell wine to earn during this period? Selling wine for takeout?
For most retailers and brick and mortar restaurants, selling more wine does take more creativity from them to sustain, at the same time, striving to adjust to the changes in state guidelines that may offer greater versatility than what was formerly allowed before the time of COVID. Undoubtedly, the restaurant owners are seriously tested, with a lot of creative and necessary examples of what they have been doing so far, which include:
- Foldaway wine stores
- Selling wine bottles at very low prices
- Subscription to wine clubs
- Selling wine with food packages
What’s next for the wine industry given our recent COVID-10 worries?
The general trend that we’ve seen for the past years persists up to this time. Since April 2020, the mean commercial wine selling prices were up to 2% compared to last year. On the other hand, direct-to-consumer patterns, which show bigger average retail price points, soared in March.
With all these details, only time will tell whether or not this current trend that we’ve been familiarized with over the last year will continue, as we keep monitoring the economic downfall due to COVID-19.