What's the Buzz?
Progressive Grocer|Janaury 2021
FIND OUT WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE BEVERAGE ALCOHOL CATEGORY IN 2021.
Lynn Petrak

Key Takeaways

Buoyed by pandemic-related shopping shifts, the outlook for retail sales of beer, wine and alcohol is bright.

Current trends that grocers should heed include larger package sizes, mixing cocktails at home, better-for-you offerings, mocktails, innovative flavors, and locally produced items.

Further, the adult beverage category is poised to widen with the addition of cannabis-infused drinks.

There are plenty of reasons to toast this new year after this last one. The outlook for retail sales of beer, wine and alcohol, a category affected by the dramatic market shifts of 2020, seems rather spirited.

For one thing, the normalcy of dining out in bars and restaurants and gathering at large public events isn’t on the short-term horizon. “We don’t sell spirits at any of our stores, but we expect the increase in beer and wine sales to continue in 2021, at least for as long as COVID restrictions are in place,” agrees Colin Heap, manager of beer and wine for The Giant Co., based in Carlisle, Pa. “Our customers are buying more to-go, which corresponds with a decline in alcohol sales at bars and restaurants.”

Within the category, there are some trends of note for food retailers that sell beer, wine and/or spirits to shoppers in their physical and online liquor departments.

Go Big and Go Home

Package size remains affected by lingering pandemic-related behaviors. “Specifically, we are seeing customers trading up to larger package sizes so they can make fewer trips to the store,” observes Heap. “For example, sales of 15-pack beer and 3-liter box wine, the maximum package sizes per transaction in Pennsylvania, are significantly up during the pandemic. We anticipate this trend will continue.”

In addition to portion and package size, many shoppers are upsizing in other ways, too — namely, buying more premium products as a way to treat themselves. Heap notes that Giant has noticed a shift toward more upscale imports from customers who may have bought domestic wines in the past.

Belly Up to the Home Bar

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