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Ecommerce alcohol sales soar

Published:  30 November, 2020

Sales of alcohol through ecommerce are set to increase by 42% this year to reach US$24bn across 10 core markets, according to new research from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

In comparison, alcohol ecommerce value in those markets, which comprise the UK, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the US, grew by 11% in 2019.

In the UK specifically, online sales of alcohol accounted for 4.8% of total alcohol sales in 2019, with IWSR estimating that ecommerce’s share of total alcoholic drinks sales will reach 8.6% this year as a result of the pandemic.

Moreover, even once the lockdown spikes have been taken into account, IWSR predicts that by 2024, the total value of online alcohol sales in the UK will be 50% higher than it was in 2019. 

The research also shows that a quarter of alcohol e-shoppers in the UK are new this year to the experience of buying alcohol online, and that 30% of UK e-shoppers buy alcohol online at least once a week.

Although consumers’ increasing proclivity for online purchasing has been driven by necessity in recent months, these purchasing behaviours are here to stay, said IWSR.  

“As brand owners increasingly invest in the channel, markets must be assessed on their own merits with a bespoke strategy developed. This is especially important as government regulations for alcohol ecommerce may evolve as the channel continues to grow,” said Guy Wolfe, strategic insights manager at IWSR. 

The forecast size and growth of ecommerce meant that it could no longer be viewed as “merely an interesting niche”, he added.

“Online is now a market in its own right, and one that the IWSR forecasts to equal the Indian beverage alcohol market in value by 2024. The channel should therefore be given an equivalent level of focus and be fully integrated into route-to-market strategies,” he said.

The report also examined an additional 10 “markets to watch” including Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Netherlands, Israel, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Singapore, and the Philippines.

Across all of the 20 markets, IWSR said it expected the total value of alcohol ecommerce to exceed US$40bn by 2024.

For further insights from the new IWSR research, released today, see the upcoming issue of Harpers, published online and in print on 4 December.