Two years on from the start of the Covid crisis, independent wine merchants are continuing to report buoyant sales figures.
Three in 10 indies say their annual sales are “much higher” than they were a year ago, with almost four in 10 saying turnover is “a little higher”.
The Wine Merchant’s annual reader survey, carried out in partnership with Hatch Mansfield, also found that confidence about the year ahead has hit a four-year high – despite concerns about the economy, and the impact that Brexit has had on wine imports (reported in our February edition).
Some aspects of 2020’s lockdowns appear to have had a lasting impact on the ways indies operate. Online sales have traditionally accounted for something like 5% of the sector’s turnover, but this has increased to 11%, while walk-in trade has declined to just over half of revenue. Almost three-quarters of indies now have a website that’s geared up for e-commerce.
The trend towards selling drinks for on-premise consumption, which was derailed by Covid, has not recovered to its pre-pandemic level of 47% of businesses. Now the proportion of indies operating the hybrid wine shop/wine bar model stands at just over 40%.
The average price of a bottle of wine in the independent trade has soared from £13.69 to £15.10, way ahead of the off-trade average of £6.35. But average transaction values have fallen from £56.85 to £52.61 as consumers see less need to bulk buy than they did in 2020.