As we approach the festive season, Drinks Retailing explores the key trends in wine, spirits and RTDs shaping this year’s peak sales period



9. Ho, ho, ho, it’s low and no

Williams also believes the low and no alcohol category will continue to grow and will play an increasingly important role during the festive season, as some consumers choose to opt out of alcohol completely, or look for alcohol-free alternatives. He points to the Bloom RTD range, which includes low-alcohol options.

Accolade’s Smith concurs, noting a focus on moderation. “As a result, we expect the importance of low/no-alcohol products to increase around Christmas, with sales projected to rise 31% by 2024.

“Our dedicated seltzer line, Nine Yards, engages with younger drinkers and adapts to the changing alcohol landscape.”

10. Festive flavours

Ian Macleod’s Boyd describes Edinburgh Gin’s Christmas gin as “quite literally Christmas in a bottle; distilled in small batches with a unique blend of seasonal botanicals, including frankincense and myrrh”. He suggests a festive G&T with an orange garnish, or using the gin in a winter spice Negroni.

The company also produces Poached Pear and Mulled gin liqueurs.

He says the liqueurs provide “great versatility for retailers during the Christmas season, offering consumers a low-abv G&T, or the ability to turn their fizz into a seasonal cocktail”.

Boyd believes that adding an element of discovery with new serves is a must at this time of year, when consumers are looking to treat themselves and try something special.

Broadland Drinks’ consumer and category insights manager Simon Oastler has been analysing the mulled wine market over the past two years. He reports that mulled wine sales were worth £16.1 million last year, up 6% on the previous year, with 73% of sales in the four weeks running up to Christmas, (Nielsen, year to July 3, 2021).

“The warmth, spices and smells of mulled wine really help bring Christmas to life for consumers, making this a really evocative product for people, so it’s not surprising that so many turned to it last year to try to recreate some festive spirit,” he says. He flags Broadland Drinks’ RTD mulled wine under the Three Mills brand, which this year sees the additions of Gingerbread Mulled Wine and non-alcoholic Mulled Winter Punch.

11. Go big and go home

Kingsland’s Taylorson reminds us that bag-in-box wine was a big trend over lockdowns, with more at-home drinking and initial limits to purchases in supermarkets. “It will be interesting to see if there is a pick-up in sales over Christmas now more consumers have come into the BIB category,” she adds. “It’s a great format to have in the house. BIB wines stay fresh for four weeks so can cover the whole festive period and mean shoppers have plenty of wine in for dinners and group gatherings. The convenience of BIB wines brought new consumers to the category while the country was under Covid restrictions and we know many have recognised the benefits of BIB and are likely to continue purchasing and embracing the benefits over the busy Christmas season.” 

CWF’s Barker believes bigger pack formats are among the key trends for retailers as consumers look for sharing options. “Within the core range of red, white and rosé, we offer both 75cl bottles and 2.25-litre bag-in-box formats, which become more desirable as we creep into the party season,” she says. “Each box is equivalent to three 75cl bottles and features an easy-pour tap.

“The bags stay fresh for up to six weeks after opening and scream value for money for the consumer. By stocking a range of formats and size options, retailers can become a serious competitor to the supermarket giants, with choice and availability being a key component of their core values.”

12. Supply woes

As consumers make merry, the trade will be battling several challenges behind the scenes. “There will be plenty thrown at us in 2022 with regards to supply chain,” says North South’s Wilson. “Brexit, small harvests, price pressure, lack of HGV drivers and the continuing coronavirus is likely to make it an interesting and challenging year ahead. We wouldn’t be surprised if Santa called in sick.”