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Waitrose to clear shelf space for more alcohol-free products

The retailer plans to give alcohol-free products 60% more space ahead of anticipated demand at Christmas.

In news that no wine producer wants to hear, one of the UK’s key supermarket wine retailers plans to reduce its allocated shelf space for wine to make room for more alcohol-free products in the coming months.

Waitrose will introduce designated alcohol-free areas, marked out with blue signage, across 253 of its stores, giving the booze-free category 60% more space.

“Demand for low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks is growing at a phenomenal rate,” Pierpaolo Petrassi, head of beers, wines and spirits at Waitrose, told The Times.

“It’s now the norm for customers to buy both. We expect this year to be the biggest year to date for sales [of alcohol-free], and are preparing for strong demand at Christmas.”

Waitrose has added 10 new low-alcohol and alcohol-free products to its own range this year, as well as booze-free versions of favourite alcohol beverage brands such as Guinness, Tanqueray and Gordon’s.

The retailer expects to increase its alcohol-free offering further still before the Christmas build-up.

Waitrose is known for being swift in its response to growing trends.

Last year, Waitrose jumped on the soaring popularity of craft beer, removing 50 of its existing beer and cider products from shelves to accommodate craft products. Some of the beers to get the axe were: Brewdog’s Planet Pale Ale, Camden Town’s Unfussy Lager 330ml, Siren Lumina Session IPA 330ml, as well as multipacks such as Tiny Rebel Mixed Packs 12 x 330ml, and Birra Moretti 18 x 330ml.

Recent data from Kantar found that nearly half of adults switch between alcoholic and alcohol-free drinks during any given drinking occasion.

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