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September heatwave saw wine volume sales down 9% year-on-year

UK volume sales of wine in September were down 9% year-on-year, db can reveal from exclusive Kantar’s latest data, as the country saw the hottest September on record. 

The year-on-year volume showed volume sales of total alcohol in the 4 weeks to 1 October remained relatively flat compared to the same period last year, rising only  0.3% however the split between the sub-categories showed shifting movement between different categories of drinks from the same period in the previous year.

Beer and Lager sales – the largest segment in terms of volume, accounting for around 44% – grew 4.4% over the four week period compared to the same period the previous year, while the highest volume growths came in flavoured alcoholic beverages (FABs), which rose 10.5% in volume terms, albeit of a very small base (accounting for just over 1.7% of volume sales). This grew ahead of cider which rose 8.4%, to account for nearly 15% of the volume sales across the alcoholic drinks category.

Meanwhile wine, the second largest category by volume, accounting for nearly a third of volume sales, fell by 9%, with Spirits also down 4.5%.

Sparkling wine however grew, up 6.4% in volume terms, boosted in part by the fine weather.

Duty impact

However, the weather was not the only factor to come into play, with the cost of living potentially putting more pressure on discretionary items such as wine and spirits. There is also the changes in the alcohol duty that officially came into effect at the start of August which could be beginning to be felt as retailers start to run out of duty-paid stock that pre-dated the 1 August changes.

The new duty system is likely to increase the price of most wines by around 44p a bottle plus VAT, an increase that the WSTA pointed out, would is “unsustainable for businesses to absorb”.

However retails buyers that db has spoken to in the last week noted that it is still too early to tell how much of an effect the duty increases are having on consumers.

Clive Donaldson, director of beverages at Asda’s IPL International Procurement and Logistics unit, told db that they were “still seeing the customers react” but that it was too early to see the effect of the duty changes. “So we’re obviously watching it very closely, and we’ll like we always try and react to what the customers want,” he said.

Waitrose’s wine buying manager Jamie Matthewson agreed, noting that there was “still some time for that to settle to understand what the impact will be for consumers.”

The figures come as like-for-like grocery inflation fell to its lowest point since last July, although it still remains double the ‘highest point in a decade’ that was reported in April 2022, at 11% for the four weeks to 1 October 2023.


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