Palmer & Harvey has reported soaring alcohol sales as consumers increasingly turn to c-stores to fill the void left by the demise of high street off-licences.

Sales to independent retailers were up 22% in the six months to 31 October, according to marketing director Richard Hayhoe.

The wholesaler had noticed a change in buying habits, with customers increasingly looking for a £6 to £8 bottle – a price point that used to be met by off licence chains, Hayhoe said.

He added that the rise in alcohol sales had also come from retailers following P&H’s advice on how to merchandise the category.

“We’ve done a lot of work on educating retailers that 38% of alcohol that is bought from c-stores is consumed in three to four hours so it’s important to make sure it’s chilled,” Hayhoe said.

“Promotions are great for driving footfall, but retailers should be aware that some people are not after a three-for-£10 deal,” he added.

Getting spirits out from behind the counter had also driven sales as well as sharper promotional price at its Mace symbol stores.

P&H is now advising retailers that their sales will increase if they stock leading brands instead of tertiary ranges, with many cstore customers shopping for a gift and preferring to buy something they recognise and trust.

Retailers should also make sure their range was geared up to Christmas, Hayhoe said. “Sherry sales will double or treble, and 75% of Baileys sales are in the run-up to Christmas.”

Gift items such as malt whisky, Champagne and sparkling wine would also experience a sales uplift, he advised.