Champagne shipments down 18% in January
After a December comeback in Champagne shipments, the figures for January show an 18% decline compared to the same month last year.
According to numbers released by the Comité Champagne this week, the shipments for last month totalled 14.6 million bottles, which was down 3.2m bottles on the same month in 2020, when the region shipped 17.8m bottles, representing an 18% decrease year-on-year.
This is in line with the overall rate of decline in Champagne shipments for 2020 as a whole, which as previously reported by db, was down 18%, amounting to a drop of 52.5m bottles to total 245m for the 12 month period.
But the performance of Champagne in January is in contrast to December, when the region experienced a comeback in sales in the run up to Christmas, reducing the drop to less than 5% compared to the same month in 2019, despite the fact that this latest Christmas period was subject to draconian Covid-19 restrictions in key Champagne consuming markets, such as the UK.
And it should be remembered that the fall-off in Champagne shipments early on in the pandemic was as much as 30%, meaning that December’s slight decline in shipments versus pre-Covid trading was remarkable, while January’s greater decline is still lower than witnessed by Champagne in March to June, during the first lockdowns across Europe.
In terms of Champagne’s performance by region in January this year, Comité Champagne figures showed that the domestic French market suffered a similar rate of decline as export markets, with a fall of 18.1% in France, with 5.8m bottles shipped in January 2021, and a decrease in shipments to outside the nation of 17.9%, amounting to 8.8m bottles.
As for the type of producer, there were differences recorded, with grower Champagnes seeing a 7.3% drop (shipping 2.1m bottles), houses falling 16.9% (shipping 11.4m bottles), and cooperatives suffering a 40.5% slump (shipping 1m bottles).
While it appears that the situation for Champagne in 2021 looks poor, January is traditionally the month with the lowest shipments levels, following the region’s peak Christmas-time period in terms of sales and consumption of the French fizz.
As db has covered extensively, people are continuing to drink wine, particularly fortified wine during January, despite the month being famous for being a time of moderating alcohol consumption.
However, with extended Covid-related restrictions on basic human freedoms in many markets, and particularly the UK, along with uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook after months of Government-enforced businesses closures, January has offered few reasons for consumers to celebrate, and therefore few excuses to open a bottle of Champagne.
Nevertheless, the mid-term outlook for Champagne is strong, with many expecting a boom in the on-trade over the summer when the hospitality sector across Europe is expected to re-open in full. Such an outlook is important for Champagne particularly, because around 40% of the top-end fizz is consumed in bars and restaurants.