Independent retailers have a huge number of opportunities to grow wine and spirit sales as Christmas arrives – parties, last-minute gifts and post-dinner night caps to name just three. Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski and Toby Hill take a look at the market

They might have seemed like challenges to the wines and spirits category at first glance, yet suppliers are adapting their offers to take account of this year’s big trends: growing demands for low- and no-alcohol, premium, craft produce and lower-priced discount products. 

RN brings together some of the suppliers who are doing the most to ensure retailers will have a bumper year while gaining advice from store owners on the things every business can do to grow their wine and spirit sales in the run-up to the festivities. 

Bring your staff into your plans, read on and decide: what will be your strategy for success in the wines and spirits category this year? 

Retailer advise to grow your wine and spirit sales 

Make up Christmas hampers  

Faisal Naseem
Party Time Premier,
Arbroath, Angus

We make Christmas hampers with wine as the main product, alongside woollen toys, shortbread and Christmas-themed confectionery. A bottle of mulled wine has to go in, then we’ll also include a couple of bottles of local wines, to keep it authentic: recently we’ve sourced from a company called Cairn o’ Mohr,
which makes very fruity wines. The hampers aren’t expensive, at £25, and we don’t make huge profit margins, just 15%. But it’s about the fact we offer something that others don’t, which gets customers through the door.

One quick thing you can do: Find wholesaler promotions now and keep the stock for the last weeks before Christmas when you can increase your margins.

Run samplings to give people ideas in the run-up to Christmas

Mo Razzaq, 
Family Shopper,
Blantyre, South Lanarkshire

People want to try something new at Christmas, but often aren’t sure what. So, we’ll give them some ideas by offering samples. For example, last year we did prosecco cocktails with blackcurrant, merchandising all the relevant ingredients around the sampling stand. We also let people sample malt whiskies, as people are often put off by the price, and place cheese next to the malts to give people a serving suggestion. And samples of gin cocktails were really popular, too, boosting our premium gin sales.

One quick thing you can do: Put spirit and liquor PoS and promotions behind the counter – in the gantry area, if possible – to catch customers’ attention. 

Convince people to try own-label wine

Joe Williams
The Village Shop and Post Office,
Hook Norton, Oxfordshire

We face a lot of competition in our area from specialist wine stores. But we also find that people are increasingly price-conscious, and that good value is a priority. We stock a range of own-brand Spar wines, which are pretty nice, for £5 or £6. Some people have the perception that it’s not going to be good quality, so to counter that I’m planning to run tastings in mid-November. We should be able to make it work: sales of own-label products across the store have gone up 20% since moving to Spar.

One quick thing you can do: Do your research and look for interesting products that your customers can give as gifts as Christmas approaches

Diageo has followed demand and created a low-alcohol G&T

At-home cocktails 

Tia Maria
Alistair Pummery 
Off trade brand manager,

This Christmas, we expect shoppers to be on the hunt for ingredients to create the classic Espresso Martini as well as experimenting with different cocktails, all in the comfort of their own home.

Premium mixers

Amy Burgess 
Trade communications manager,
Coca-Cola European Partners

At Christmas time, people will be looking for something special to add some sparkle to their celebrations. We’ve seen demand for premium products go up as more people choose to socialise at home. 

Trading up on wine

Hardys VR
Andrew Nunney 
Category, shopper and insights director, 
Accolade Wines

Consumers will be on the lookout for more premium wines to cater for events such as Christmas Day lunch and Boxing Day lunch. A range of options should be stocked for consumers who want to trade up, but are not confident in what to choose.

Other top wines and spirits for Christmas 2018

Absolut Raspberri:

Alongside Jameson and other key spirits, Absolut is part of an eight-week campaign from Pernod Ricard to increase awareness of premium spirits among customers and retailers. 

Similar to this: Pernod Ricard bolsters Absolut pre-mix range with Raspberry and Lemon


Echo Falls Prosecco:

There’s nearly a third of the population who are still yet to be fully introduced to the prosecco boom, according to Accolade Wines, meaning there’s a lot of room for growth. 

Captain Morgan:

Available across grocery and convenience, the iconic Captain Morgan label has been replaced with seven different names: Drama, Banter, Comedy, Genius, Retro, Clueless and Karaoke.