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Online BWS sales hold strong

Published:  10 March, 2021

Online beer, wines and spirits (BWS) sales held strong in February, rising by 64.7% year-on-year, according to IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index.

Year-to-date online BWS sales were up 82.9% revealed the research, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers. 

“Since Christmas, the BWS category has recorded some of its highest weekly year-on-year growth figures since the pandemic started,” said Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG, adding that alcohol was one of the “stand out performers”. 

“It has tended to be the earliest category to see a huge growth boost when the lockdowns came into force, but online demand might remain strong even as restrictions are eased – given the time of year, people are likely to be hosting BBQs in their gardens before bars and restaurants open again,” he said.

Overall online retail sales were up 69.5% year-on-year, falling a little short of January’s recording-breaking 74% growth although February’s figures were still significantly higher than the rolling averages of three, six and 12 months (up 57.1%, 42.5% and 42.7% respectively).

Looking ahead, Mulcahy said that even though there is a roadmap out of lockdown and the vaccination programme is “going well”, it was difficult to anticipate exactly how people would behave as restrictions are eased.

“It’s become common for people to look for the ‘new normal’ across industries, but it might be too early to be focusing on that. Instead, it is more useful to think of a ‘current normal’ as things are still so unpredictable and susceptible to sudden shifts in customer behaviour,” he said.

“The ‘current normal’ in retail is for sustained pandemic-high growth rates across almost every product category but that rate of growth cannot be sustained once we get into April, but the extent to which spend will be diverted strongly away to ‘experience’ options such as travel, going out, live events etc. is a very tough question to answer.”

Last month, CGA research pinpointed wine as the most popular online purchase during the Covid-19 pandemic.