After a festive surge in online alcohol sales, analysts are forecasting an even stronger 2014 for the sector than 2013 was.
With online retailer Naked Wines reporting a 48% leap in sales over Christmas, and industry insiders saying Ocado and Amazon had enjoyed festive trading ahead of expectations, the online drinks market has been tipped for further growth in 2014.
“Robust” online sales figures for 2013 were part of a longer-term pattern of growth and came off the back of strong figures last year, said Chris Webster, vice president of consumer products and retail at consultants Capgemini UK. Online sales of beer, wines and spirits had grown 16% year on year in November and December 2013, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-retail index.
“Although the first half of the year was flat, we saw strong double-digit growth throughout the second half of 2013,” added Webster. “It’s a marked step change and broadly consistent with the pick-up in consumer confidence.”
The convenience of online wine shopping had made it a part of the retail mix that was “here to stay”, according to Richard Halstead, COO of analysts Wine Intelligence. “It’s easier to find what you want and there is often a bigger range of products. The habit has been formed and people now regard it as normal,” he added.
Waitrose said its online sales offer had got a positive response from shoppers and that although fizz remained a festive best seller, more customers had bought wine ranges specially created to match Christmas dinner and party food.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer all reported healthy online grocery sales over the festive period, with wine sales dominated by the continued rise of prosecco. Overall volume sales of prosecco rose 53% [Kantar Worldpanel 12 w/e 5 January 2014].