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Tequila, RTDs Soar At Retail As Summer Season Heats Up

July 8, 2022

With bars, restaurants, and outdoor events in full swing and product prices on the rise, beverage alcohol retail sales have slowed from the back-to-back booming years of 2020-2021. Overall sales are still up significantly from pre-Covid, but retailers face new challenges heading into a summer full of uncertainties. Stores are stocking up on spirits-based RTDs, Tequila, rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, and 3-liter boxed wines, which are all seeing strong growth.

At Wilbur’s Total Beverage in Fort Collins, Colorado, high-end Tequila sales are up 20% this year. “If you can get it, the top-sellers are Casamigos Blanco ($50 a 750-ml.), Don Julio 1942 Anejo ($175 a 750-ml.), and Cincoro Blanco ($70),” says manager Mat Dinsmore.

Dinsmore notes supply is still not meeting demand, and inflation is biting hard. “The supply chain hasn’t improved,” he says. “In some ways it’s better than last year, but the pricing has gone to hell. We are watching inflationary pressures on everything. I’m getting a hundred price increases a week. Consumers are more price conscious.”

“Consumers are looking for value when they shop,” agrees Mark O’Callaghan, owner of Exit 9 Wine & Liquor Warehouse in Clifton Park, New York. At Exit 9 so far this year, spirits-based RTDs and hard seltzer sales are up 31%. “I have never seen a category explode like this,” O’Callaghan says. “We probably have doubled the SKUs we offer because of the new products coming out every day, but I can’t carry them all. Last year there were RTD supply issues due to shortage of cans, but it doesn’t look like we have many supply issues currently.”

Offerings with strong brand recognition at Exit 9 are among the best sellers, including Jose Cuervo Classic Margarita ($15.01 a 1.75-liter), 1800 Ultimate Margarita ($23.63 a 1.75-liter), Crown Royal ($14.02 a four-pack of 12-ounce cans), Jack Daniel’s ($13.89 a four-pack of 355-ml. cans), Absolut ($13.01 a four-pack of 355-ml. cans), Bacardi ($13.97 a four-pack of 355-ml. cans), and Malibu ($12.10 a four-pack of 355-ml. cans). “They are all flying,” O’Callaghan says. “We have a 2,000-case display of High Noon ($9.95 a four-pack of 355-ml. cans) in our store, and we sold more than 10% of it—close to 300 cases—over Memorial Day weekend.” Market Watch has the full story.—Kevin Barry

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