Issue 35: Blurring the distinction between on and off-trade sales

Just under a quarter of independent wine specialists are now selling wine for consumption on the premises, according to a Wine Merchant poll.

This year’s reader survey reveals that 18% of independents have been serving wine to their customers for at least a year, while another 5% have started doing so within the past 12 months. A further 5% say they have definite plans to start offering wine for on-premise consumption this year, while a further 14% have yet to make a decision.

Corks Out, which is about to open its sixth branch, embodies the trend towards this hybrid wine shop/wine bar format: the new Knutsford store is expected to be weighted 70-30 in favour of on-premise sales (see page four of our April editionThe Wine Merchant issue 35 page 1). The company already allows customers to drink on the premises in other branches and owner Ruth Yates says this has contributed to a 20% increase in take-home trade for the company.

However the proportion of independents rejecting the idea of on-premise sales has risen from 48% last year to 58% in this year’s survey.

There has also been a marked increase in the proportion of retailers dismissing the concept of offering food of any kind, but the survey reveals that 87% of independents are now selling beer.

• More survey analysis starts on page 21 of this month’s issue.