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Independent wine merchants excited by strong pre-Christmas sales

Published:  16 December, 2013

Independent wine merchants are reporting a solid lead-up in sales in the build up to Christmas as the Ipsos Retail Performance has revealed overall shopper numbers are on track to exceed last year.

According to Ipsos' Retail Traffic Index (RTI), that tracks global shopping behaviour, retail footfall for the month to date (November 24 - December 7) was 1.9% higher than the equivalent weeks last year. It also revealed that the strongest year-on-year growth in the month to date has been seen in Scotland and Northern Ireland with retail traffic 11.3% up on the same fortnight last year.

A sample of UK independent merchants reveals a mixed footfall, but overall trade is definitely up. Ruth Yates, owner of Cheshire based chain Corks Out, said its footfall is up by 34% on last year and she is noticing an uplift in customer spending along with corporate and wholesale spending. "We have already had a great second half to the year and knocked the socks off our last two months targets," she said.

Hal Wilson, managing director, Cambridge Wine Merchants said it is also seeing more footfall with sales already ahead on last year with many more fine wines and spirits being sold and more on-trade/wine bar activity.

But Surrey-based wine merchants Taurus Wines said its footfall is "massively down" on last year. However, owner Rupert Pritchett said it is doing many more deliveries and turnover overall is significantly up. "The orders are not cold sales through the website, rather they come in by phone or email. Thus the customers seem to want the feel of a personal service such as a 10 minute phone call or email exchange about their purchase."

Pritchett added orders are also being placed on much shorter lead times. "Both for party orders as well as regular cellar refill orders which can put us under unnecessary pressure," he said.

Alastair Marshall, senior wine buyer, at Adnams, said its Cellar and Kitchen stores throughout East Anglia have seen an increase in footfall and a 2.5% increase in sales so far on last year. "Our Champagne sales are modest but the rise and rise of Prosecco leaves us struggling to maintain stocks in the face of such a voracious public. We got another big boost from releasing our own whisky recently, but that is an exceptional event. Web sales have grown as has traditional mail-order. We are bracing ourselves for a last minute rush which will be upon us from this weekend.