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Global online buying frenzy levelling out

Published:  11 August, 2020

The extraordinary upward curve in online wine and spirit sales appears to be flattening, suggests the latest data from Wine-Searcher.

According to figures from the price comparison website, while global wine searches for July were up 17% and spirits just 7% over the same period year, these rises were far below the online boom earlier in the pandemic.

In June wine searches hit a 45% increase, following a 33% uplift during May, while spirits searches rose 57% and 111% respectively over the same months as consumers either turned to, or were forced to shop, online.

The data, published on Wine-Searcher’s website on 11 August, suggests that while online interest in wines and spirits remains higher than before, activity has clearly receded since the first peak of the pandemic.

“This fall-off in the rate of increase of searches is in line with broader sales data for the FMCG sector from Nielsen; after a spike in March, sales figures are mostly back within 10% of the corresponding 2019 figures,” outlined the report.

These global figures, however, mask large variance in online behaviour in differing markets, along with some interesting category rises and falls.

In China, for example, during the last two weeks of July, online searches for wines, spirits and beers dropped 26%, 34% and 38% respectively, contrasting with wine searches in the US, up 10%, with spirits flying higher at 25%, but with beer down.

In the UK, searches for wines and spirits remained strong at a 25% uplift for both, with beer delivering a 47% rise.

Intriguingly, Bourbon searches topped the UK spirits searches at 42% up, mirroring the figure in the US.

The report also considered spend, considering what it terms ‘average click price’ (ACP), translating as the average price of each product per click through.

Globally, the ACP for wine was up 7%, with a 16% boost in sparkling wine, while the ACP for spirits threw up a modest 1% rise, although with certain categories, such as Scotch (up 9%), Bourbon (up 12%) and gin (up 14%) faring better than others.