What can drinks retailers do to gain an edge this summer? Nigel Huddleston asks the experts


Refreshment doesn’t have to be about alcohol and, as the mercury rises, many more consumers than normal could be turning to low/no drinks to stay in control and limit dehydration.

Ben Blake, head of marketing for EMEA at Treasury Wine Estates, which recently added Wolf Blass Zero to its low/no UK armoury, says: “Last year we saw low/no equal its January percentage share over August and September.

“Some 48% of global wine drinkers are moderating their alcohol consumption in some way. One in four say they are switching to lower alcohol options, with Millennials the most likely to moderate in the UK [Wine Intelligence low/no report 2022].”

Charles MacDonald, off-trade commercial director at alcohol-free beer specialist Days Brewing, says NIQ figures show that alcohol-free beer is four times bigger than the 0.5% abv segment, and growing twice as quickly. “Multipacks are the big value driver, representing nearly 80% of sales in the alcohol-free beer category,” he says.

Laura Willoughby, co-founder of low/no advocacy group Club Soda, adds: “Ready-to-drink alcohol-free cocktails and perfect serves are great for travelling, picnics and festivals.

“Don’t underestimate the excitement of new additions to the alcohol-free scene, like Bemuse alcohol-free mead – its raspberry flavour is like summer in a glass – and the new Maiden Hill cider. Both are great seasonal drinks.”


We’ll take it as read that most people will be earmarking fridge space for lager, cider, RTDs, white wine, fizz and rosé, but the rise of craft beer and the importance of keeping it fresh has tweaked the agenda so that subcategories such as pales, IPAs, sours and saisons also rightly stake claims for places in chillers.

Badger Beers drinks marketing manager Giles Mountford even stakes a claim for stout. Guinness is the obvious choice but there’s also noise from other brewers, with BrewDog launching Black Heart in February and Guinness launching a Cold Brew Coffee version last year.

Badger itself has included a milk stout in its new Outland range of “mainstream craft” beers. “Stout fans enjoy the drink year round, but will only drink it in summer if it’s very well chilled,” says Mountford.


There’s nothing more effective at securing a sale than a good hand sell, so briefing staff on the key focus products for the summer, and the reasons to purchase them, could be invaluable.

Chell at Canned Wine Co says: “Training staff with three key facts that they can share with customers really helps. We have devised some POS with information about our grape variety profiles and ‘if you like this, try that’ information, such as ‘Grüner Veltliner: vibrant and zesty, try if you like Sauvignon Blanc’.”


In spirits especially, retailers can upgrade customer purchases with displays that feature all the ingredients for making a selection of finished serves.

Amy Burgess, senior trade communications manager at Schweppes mixer supplier Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, says: “Shoppers want displays where they can pick up everything they want in one go, so retailers should look at how they can display complementary spirits and mixers together, and even include things like garnishes in their displays to drive incremental sales.”

Paul Sullivan, managing director at Six O’Clock gin, says featured drinks could be as simple as the G&T, or a Gin Martini, with olives as an upsell and the opportunity to get vermouth moving as well. Some simple POS explaining how to make the featured serves can also help.

“Don’t assume that everyone knows how to make a Martini,” says Sullivan. “If it sounds easy then customers are likely to give it a try. If it seems difficult, they will give it a miss.” 


Extending key summer alcohol merchandising to floor displays and gondola ends is a sure-fire way to generate sales on high-value or fast-moving lines.

Adam Drake, head of field sales at Lyme Bay Winery, says: “End-of-aisle display units are an important asset during the summer months as they allow retailers to mix and match products, creating an in-store consumer experience that encourages consumers to trade up.”

Summery big-hitters should get priority. “Rate-of-sale for Thatchers Cloudy Lemon, for example, is five times higher in the summer months than over the winter,” says Thatchers commercial director Jon Nixon, “and the new product launch in 2022, Thatchers Blood Orange, had a six times higher rate of sale over July and August than in the winter months.”