More than half of consu­mers prefer to buy alcoholic drinks from a specialist off-licence, according to retail consultants HIM.

HIM's survey of 1,586 off-licence shoppers also indicated there were plenty of areas where off-licences could increase sales.

These included tar­geting higher-value shoppers, ­particularly those who want an expensive wine for ­entertaining.

These people account for 21% of all sales and have the highest spend.

But HIM said it was also important to keep regular customers happy as they ­account for 45% of all sales.