Enterprising retailers are hunting for the next key alcohol trend to emerge in the new year, after enjoying a major spike in gin sales in 2017. 

A like-for-like sample of 4,000 independent stores surveyed by RN data partner EDFM showed gin sales leapt 38% in late October and early November 2017, compared to the same period the year before. Growth was highest in the north west.

A December YouGov poll found gin is now the UK’s most popular drink, rising from third place in 2016. Whiskey is now in second place and vodka in third. 

Steph Latham, manager of Spar Lostock Hall in Preston, told RN she has doubled her gin lines over the past year. “Sales have definitely improved, especially on flavoured gins, which we didn’t stock last year. Customers tend to flip between brands and flavours, which is great for sales.” 

Garry Haigh of Peterhead Motors in Aberdeenshire, credits trend-led drinks including gin and craft ale as revitalising his alcohol offer in 2017. He stocks niche gins such as Boe Violet Gin and has focused on making his store a local destination for hard-to-find brands.  

Jack Matthews of Bradley’s Supermarkets in Quorn, Leicestershire, said the gin market has grown phenomenally. “We’ve marketed our range by doing gin gift packs and tastings of local gins,” he said.

Mr Matthews warned, however, that sales could slow as the market becomes saturated. “People have tried so many gins now, their cupboards are full,” he said, adding he believed vodka will be the “next renaissance”. “We’ve just listed two premium vodkas – Ciroc and Thunder Toffee Vodka. Spirits overall have taken a premium step, and people are willing to pay more than in the past,” he said.

Ms Latham agreed that vodka could be the next spirit to enjoy a sales boost. “We’ve just started stocking Echo Falls flavoured vodka, which launched last month,” she said.