Independents report strong Christmas sales

Many independent drinks retailers across the UK have reported strong sales for the weeks leading up
to Christmas 2017, with some stating the festive period was the best they have ever had.

Ted Sandbach, managing director at Oxford Wine Company, told DRN its sales were up 8% for December, compared to the same month in 2016.

“Month-on-month sales have been going up anyway for a long time now,” he said. “Our retail arm is doing better than wholesale. Wholesale was down a bit over December but altogether we saw sales grow by 8%.

“People are de nitely trading up and this is something that continued over Christmas. We didn’t sell anything unusual but we sold more expensive wines. People spent £10-£15 a bottle instead of £5-£10. Italian wines did well for us this Christmas too.”

Muriel Chatel, director at Borough Wines, also said trading was good with the 13-week period covering Christmas up 17% on the previous year.

She told DRN: “It is a good surprise and a relief during these challenging times. We
are still managing to keep our heads above water and sales for Christmas were up on last year. At one point November was a bit quiet so I was worried, but it really worked out and we had a better quarter. For the last six weeks to Christmas sales were good and sales over the last week were fantastic.

“People spent a lot more on spirits in the run-up to Christmas than last year. Wine sales are always good over this period
but I would say that sparkling wines and Champagne sales did particularly well.”

Both retailers highlighted the success of gin last year, particularly over the festive period. Sandbach said: “Gin is massive now. We had a local gin from the Oxford Artisan Distillery and it did amazingly well. It was ridiculous the amount of gin we sold. It used to be a bottle here and there but we were ordering 10 cases a week and it was bloody madness. Spirits sales are hugely up.”

Chatel agreed that sales of spirits were good over Christmas and throughout 2017 in general. “We now have more than 200 products and we launched

a click and order service for people to collect these from stores the next day because we don’t have the shelf space to stock all of the brands. We have a really good interaction between ecommerce and our bricks and mortar stores, and we could really see that last year.”

Borough Wines has also invested in setting up a low and no-alcohol range of drinks. “Sales are good so far this January as you would expect, but we also saw really strong sales through December,” said Chatel.

Beer and cider specialist Favourite Beers, in Cheltenham, con rmed that good festive sales were not limited to wine and spirits.

Owner Leigh Norwood said: “Wow – that was some Christmas run-in this year with the shop breaking so many records. We beat our previous busiest-ever day [recorded in 2015] not once, but twice – on the Friday and Saturday before Christmas.

“We also recorded our busiest week ever, with turnover and number of customers both signi cantly up on last year’s previous record.

“All of this just put the cherry on the top of another great year for Favourite Beers, which has seen us buck the Brexit-in uenced downward trend in retailing, including the drinks sector.”

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