Over the past couple of years there’s been a lot of talk about the “hybrid” wine shop model. Merchants aren’t just selling wines for customers to take home with them. They’re inviting them to take a seat and enjoy their purchase on the premises, sometimes with a plate of charcuterie, and occasionally with a free-jazz musician providing some added entertainment.
As we reported a few months ago, most new entrants in the specialist independent trade are going the hybrid route – indeed it’s hard to know whether some should really be classed as wine bars that happen to have a retail element. But when you look at the market as a whole, it’s clear that these businesses are in a minority.
Our reader surveys of 2016 and 2017 reported that just 28% of indies sold wine for consumption on the premises. This year, that figure has jumped to nearly 36%, with a further 4% saying they will switch to the hybrid model in the coming year. Fourteen per cent of respondents are still weighing up the idea.
There will still be room for the classic wine merchant model. But how many more years will it be before such retailers find themselves in a minority?