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UK shoppers traded up to more expensive wine during lockdown, Nielsen reports

Shoppers in UK supermarkets have traded up to more expensive wines during lockdown, the latest data from Nielsen has shown, despite the fears of economic uncertainty.

Man choosing wine

Speaking to the drinks business last week, Nielsen’s senior commercial business partner Gemma Cooper told db that UK consumers had been trading up – and there was no sign of this growth slowing noticeably following the reopening of the on-trade and the UK officially entering recession last month.

“Wine in general has been one of the standout categories in the off-trade since lockdown began along with beer and cider, making up a quarter of all growth,” she said, noting that there hadn’t been any particular varietals that had seen standout growth.

Overall growth for wine was 26% up on the previous year, with rosé showing the strongest growth, up 39% to £403m. Red wine also grew, rising 24% to a value of £1.17, billion, just ahead of white wine, at 23% on the previous year, to £1.446bn in value sales. However growth has slowed following the opening of the on-trade, to around 30% for rosé, 22% for red wine, and 16% for white wine.

Cooper also noted said there had been a noticeable trend of trading up since lockdown began, with strong increase in wine sold in the £5.00-£7.00 and £7.00- £9.00 brackets, while volume at the £3.00 – £4.99 bracket declined.

“It is possibly that there is less around [at that level], but we are seeing that overall trend of people trading up, especially with beer and cider, maybe into a more expensive brand or something they hadn’t tried before,” Cooper said.

Around half of all wine sold in the UK supermarkets is sold between £5.00- £7.00 bracket, and this rose from 50% a year ago to 53% during lockdown, while the volume of wine sold priced between £3.00and £4.99 fell by 8%, down from 39% a year ago to 32% during period (to 8 August 2020).

There was also an uptick at the £7.00 -£9.00 bracket, up from 8% a year ago, to 11% during lockdown, she noted.

Movement above that was flatter, with wines priced £9.00 and above accounting for around 3% of all wines sold at retail only seeing a modest change of 1%.

“You have to bear in mind there’s been no promotions running and prices will have naturally changed because of a lot of economic factors, but we have seen that trade up where people want to treat themselves to a little bit more expensive, a different brand and more premium offering – and we’re seeing that across the board,” Cooper said.

The average price of a bottle of wine in the UK was expected to break the £6 barrier for the first time this year, according to the the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, up from £5.93 in 2019 and £5.73 in 2018.

Although the off-trade has slowed in general since the on-trade opened, wine is still highly performing in terms of other categories in the marketplace, Cooper noted.

Spirits, she said had also proved interesting. “They are still highly performing category in terms of double digit growth, but to the latest couple of weeks, growth is quite slow. At the start, flavoured rum, gin, even flavoured vodka did well, but as lockdown it continued, beer, cider and even wine was the standout of choice for shoppers.

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