UK online drinks market sees huge growth

The UK e-commerce sector for beer, wine and spirits is seeing exceptional growth in 2015, rising “several hundred percent” on the same period in both 2013 and 2014, research has claimed.

Market research by IMRG has shown an unprecedented spike in growth for the UK online wine market (Photo: IMRG)

Market research by IMRG has shown an unprecedented spike in growth for the UK online drinks market (Photo: IMRG)

Online wine retail is expected to own 15% of the UK off-trade by 2018 (Photo: db)

Online wine retail is expected to own 15% of the UK off-trade by 2018 (Photo: db)

At 28.7%, beers, wine and spirits in the first quarter of this year recorded the highest quarterly growth seen since the final quarter of 2010, analysis by online retail tracker IMRG has shown.

The level of expansion witnessed so far this year is double that seen in the same period in 2012.

In March the year-on-year growth was 17%, up 7.7% on February.The last time the year started so strongly for beers, wine and spirits was back in 2010, the research, published earlier this month, claims.

The growing market share of e-commerce in the UK wine off-trade has also been highlighted by Tim Wilson, head of the wine market research firm The Wilson Report, in a talk given at The London Wine Fair yesterday.

He told attendees that the 11% of the wine off-trade currently owned by online case-sale retailers, such as Laithwaites Online, Naked Wines and Tesco Wine by the Case, will rise to 18% in as little as three years time.

“Online wine retail is not only here to stay, but it is also going to grow,” he said.

In another key insight into the latest trends in the wine market, Wilson also highlighted the growing influence of online sales through mobile and tablet devices.

“Around 40% of Christmas-period sales [itself a time when online wine retailers average about 40% of their yearly sales] last year were done on mobile phones and tablets… And it won’t be long until it reaches 50%”, he claimed.

When asked about what consumers are looking for in wine retail websites, Wilson said that flexibility of choice in terms of price range, grape variety and region were all-important factors.

“Range tends to be the most important. For example, can you select wines by region, price and variety? Flexibility is what people look for on online retailer sites in general, and so it is the case for wine”, Wilson said.

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