As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, consumers are purchasing more alcohol in retail locations and making larger purchases. Consumers are purchasing larger package sizes and focusing on economy and premium alcohol brands that they trust. In the long run, experts predict that consumers, having experimented with e-commerce alcohol purchases during the pandemic, will continue these habits, shifting purchasing away from retail.

1. Increased Purchasing

  • Consumers have increased spending on alcohol purchased in retail locations, with brick-and-mortar alcohol sales up 21% for the seven-week period ending April 18th, 2020, as compared to a year ago.
  • While consumers are also spending more, more consumers are purchasing alcohol at retail locations than prior to the Coronavirus outbreak.
  • Consumer purchasing of alcohol shifted away from convenience stores and specialty stores and to larger grocery chains and warehouse clubs during the pandemic.
  • Consumers are “maximizing their purchase” every time they go to a store during the pandemic, buying more at once but making fewer trips as they stay home more.

2. Changing Preferences

  • During the Coronavirus outbreak, consumers have been purchasing large package sizes of alcohol from retail locations. This includes increased sales of boxed wine, 1.75 litre spirits, and 30- and 24-packs of beer.
  • Economy and premium spirits outsold “sales of luxury, super-premium and ultra-premium by roughly two to one” during the Coronavirus outbreak.
  • Consumers have been less willing to try new alcohol brands during the Coronavirus outbreak, with 69% of consumers stating that they are sticking to alcohol brands they trust.
  • Spirits, specifically tequila and gin, and wine saw larger percentage sales increases than beer during the pandemic.
  • Canned cocktails also saw an increase in sales during the pandemic, up 93% in late March.

3. Long Term Impact

  • Experts have predicted that the alcoholic beverage industry will take five years to recover from the Coronavirus outbreak, because even though retail and e-commerce liquor has seen an increase in sales during the outbreak, it is not enough to offset the losses from bars and restaurants.
  • Consumers increased purchases of alcohol through e-commerce channels during the Coronavirus outbreak, a trend that many experts predict will continue post-pandemic, which could in the long run detract from in-store purchases.
  • Consumers have also experimented with making cocktails at home, which may continue post-lock down.
  • While in the short-term consumers shifted away from ideas of moderation and wellness during the lock down, in the long term, experts predict the lasting impact of the Coronavirus to encourage consumers to drink no and low-alcohol beverages.

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