Independents are taking an increasingly open-minded approach to their shops and broadening their specialism beyond wine.
The 2014 reader survey conducted by The Wine Merchant suggests that most specialist independent wine shops will eventually sell delicatessen items or other food, and that a majority will also offer wine for consumption on the premises.
The poll of more than 100 readers found that almost 45% of independents already sell food, and 12% are considering introducing a food offer of some kind.
A quarter of respondents say they sell wine for consumption on the premises, and 27% are considering introducing this service for their customers.
The survey also detected increasing interest from independents in speciality spirits, British craft beers, imported beers, cigars and tobacco products, wine accessories and glassware. Of these categories, spirits proved the most popular, with 76% of respondents saying the category was definitely of interest to their business, compared to 65% last year.
British craft beers, which topped the 2013 poll, saw their level of interest increase from 63% to 72%. Imported beers, which scored 39% last year, achieved 47% this time.
Interest in glassware saw a spectacular increase, from 19% to 34%, and wine accessories were not far behind, up from 19% to 33%. Interest in cigars and tobacco was up modestly, from 30% to 32%.
Once again, Boutinot topped the table of the independent sector’s favourite suppliers, with Liberty finishing second for the second successive year – though the margin this time was just one vote.
Sixty-nine per cent of respondents say they are broadly happy with the support they receive from suppliers, with just 8% saying they are fairly unhappy.
Suppliers are criticised in the survey for a variety of problems, including a lack of clarity on channel strategy, errors during the ordering process, unrealistic minimum orders and inadequate support for marketing and promotions.
Last month’s issue of The Wine Merchant reported survey findings that total sales in the independent trade rose by more than 7% last year, from £421 million to £483.2 million, with average takings per shop up from £617,537 to £681,997.
• More survey analysis appears on pages 20 to 23 of this month’s issue.