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Retailers Ride Growing Sales Wave As Covid-19 Continues Into Summer Months

July 8, 2020

The beverage alcohol sales rush triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic is continuing to surge at double-digit growth rates, with intense demand for RTDs, wine, and Tequila leading the way into July. On another level, hard seltzers and rosés in particular have continued their robust growth trends. Retailers are working hard to keep up with rising consumer demand for these products.

Glen Knight, co-owner of The Wine House in Los Angeles, sees customers reaching for familiar wine bottles. He has high expectations this summer for imports like Vinho Verde, Albarino, Chablis, Sancerre, Italian Pinot Grigio, and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Overall, wine dollar sales in Nielsen channels rose by 28% year-on-year in the period from March 7 through June 27, with volume up 24%.

Knight adds that rosé and Bordeaux futures started seeing customer interest at The Wine House as June rolled into July. “We’ve been seeing an increase of rosé over the past two months of quarantine because many producers have been slashing prices on their 2018s still in stock,” he says. “And many of our collectors are jumping back into the Bordeaux futures game, because we’re looking at a great vintage paired with pricing we have not seen in many years.”

Mark O’Callaghan, owner of Exit 9 Wine & Liquor Warehouse in the Albany, New York metro area, says that he’s seeing customers gravitate toward canned cocktails because of the easy drinking experiences they offer. “RTDs are flying off the shelves, especially at the higher end,” he says. “We’re really trying to bulk up our selection. Everything is selling.” In fact, O’Callaghan says 30% of his RTD SKUs are currently out of stock. RTD cocktails have seen a boom in Nielsen channels during the pandemic, consistently ranking among the best-performing spirits categories in percentage growth terms. In the four weeks through June 27, RTD cocktails jumped 92% in Nielsen data year-on-year. Tequila (+70%), Cognac (+51%), and cordials (+41%) are also showing rapid gains.

RTD sales are also prevalent at Julio’s Liquors in Westborough, Massachusetts, with a focus on local products like Fabrizia Spirits’ Italian Style canned cocktails ($20 a mixed 12-pack of 12-ounce cans). “Hard seltzers are still super hot, but so are RTDs from local producers,” says Julio’s owner Ryan Maloney. “People aren’t turned off by the pricing, they just want something that tastes good.” Market Watch has more on the key trends driving business at the retail tier.—Kevin Barry

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