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Raising the bar for 2017

Published:  24 December, 2016

Translating the seasonal bonanza into sustainable premium sales should be an attainable New Year's resolution

"Sell, sell, sell and then sell some more" is perhaps an apt description for anyone at the sharp end of retailing as the drinks trade plunges headlong into the final days of 2016. This season is, after all, by far the most important in terms of volume and value for the industry, and the success or otherwise of Christmas trading can seriously impact on the health and wealth of a business. 

The point that consumers dig deeper into their pockets during the festive season may seem a tad obvious. But link this to the general trend for those same drinkers to imbibe less but of better quality, and the importance of setting the Christmas bar high becomes clear. Those with a vision as to how to best translate this seasonal bonanza into sustainable, more premium sales throughout 2017 will undoubtedly profit from their actions, while also boosting the viability of the trade as whole.

This theme of capitalising on the 'less is more' rise in premium wine spend is pertinent. As Richard Halstead of Wine Intelligence recently suggested, despite a continuing slide in both wine consumption and the number of people actually drinking wine on a regular basis, there may be a silver lining to the current uncertain trading conditions. 

Against a backdrop of rising costs, recently analysed in some depth by Wine Intelligence in the post-Brexit vote environment, Halstead stated: "Brexit will undoubtedly drive out consumers at the lower end... but for those with an eye on quality, there are still opportunities to sell wine at higher price points, as consumers become more discerning in their choices."

The trade has seen seismic changes in 2016 and 2017 is almost certain to deliver more of the same. Further consolidation and blurring of sectors are surely a given, with those that adapt and evolve being best placed to ride out the choppy times and make the most of shifting consumer trends. At the heart of those shifting trends is the very real possibility of driving the thirst for premium to become the norm - something the trade has collectively voiced as its ambition for years but, somewhat ironically, is now being driven by some of the toughest trading conditions in memory. 

The trade has never been more dynamic and will doubtless rise to whatever 2017 throws at it with the kind of gusto and innovation that continues to deliver a world-leading drinks scene in the UK. 

And, with that thought, Team Harpers would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.