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Wine sales in US maintain pre-pandemic levels

Published:  06 May, 2020

Wine sales in the US have nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels after an early spike in online sales, according to a new US Covid-19 Impact Report from Wine Intelligence.

The news is fuelling hope the wine trade may be spared the serious damage the crisis is causing the hospitality and travel sectors.

As Harpers reported last week, online sales in the UK leapt 78% through April, following a similar pattern to the US market.

US wine drinkers have consumed wine more frequently during the lockdown, the research reveals. The increase in wine-drinking occasions has primarily been driven by women, gen Xers and millennials.

New opportunities for wine drinking have been driven by non-food occasions such as catching up with friends online, pre-dinner drinks and virtual wine tastings. Consumption has also increased at lunchtime and during more indulgent evening meals.

Although volume wine have increased, most consumers reported a slightly lower average spend on a typical bottle of wine. However, more engaged consumers – who usually spend between $15 and $20 per bottle – have been spending more.

Positive signs for the trade post-crisis include US wine drinkers anticipating higher consumption once restrictions are lifted, with 27% also more likely to visit a restaurant.

Against that, some 40% said they would be less likely to visit a restaurant, while 20% of monthly wine drinkers have significantly cut back on both wine spend and consumption, and are very reluctant to return to an active social life.

Consumers also predict they will travel less and attend fewer sports and other big social events. Spending less generally – and building up savings – are also likely to be major priorities.

In challenging news for European producers, US wine drinkers have turned to domestic wines during lockdown, with 18% buying more wine from California and other US regions and 20% buying less wine from France, Italy and Spain.

Trust in old-world wines – and particularly those from Italy – has also diminished.

Lulie Halstead, chief executive of Wine Intelligence, said: “Our data supports other evidence that shows that US wine drinking is holding up, and that sales will continue to be solid once lockdown ends.

“In fact, there are clear opportunities with certain consumer segments right now and also in the medium term as we move to post-lockdown behavior.

“Looking ahead, the US wine drinker is understandably quite cautious about their household finances and the idea of getting on a plane.

“Thankfully for the wine category, their intention seems to be replacing big treats like vacations and big events with small treats like a nicer bottle of wine.”