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UK Drinkers Increase Their Wine Consumption Frequency, but Spend Less per Bottle as Purchase Channels Change

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The UK’s 28 million wine drinkers expanded their wine occasions to include during the day, with online catch ups and with lunch more frequently during the lockdown, according to new data published today by Wine Intelligence.

The closure of pubs, bars and restaurants spurred many drinkers to shop more frequently in supermarkets, convenience stores and especially online, and has yielded an average of over 10 wine consumption occasions per person per month for the first time, with 16% of consumers saying they now drink wine every day, up from 11% before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new Wine Intelligence UK COVID-19 Impact Report polled a nationally representative sample of 1,000 monthly UK-resident wine drinkers during March and April to understand how their wine drinking behaviour was changing as a result of the restrictions due to the coronavirus. The findings suggest that the surge in wine purchasing recorded by retailers during March and April is likely to be sustained, as wine is now being consumed at lunchtime, or catching up with friends online, replacing the trip to the restaurant with a more indulgent evening meal.

Over half of the UK wine drinkers surveyed by Wine Intelligence said they were drinking wine during the day outside of mealtimes during the lockdown, with a third saying their day-drinking was happening at least once a week.

The growing volume of wine purchased and consumed during this period has been accompanied by a decline in typical average price per bottle paid, according to the research. This decline was observed among all age groups and appears to be independent of income or engagement with the wine category, suggesting that all consumers were taking the lockdown as a cue to trade down in value as their purchase volume increased.

This is a sudden reversal of a trend of several years’ standing, where consumers in the UK have been trending towards drinking less but spending more per bottle. In the 12 months to March 2020, the proportion of consumers saying they spent over £8 a bottle for informal wine drinking occasions rose above 25% for the first time ever, up from 22% in March 2019.

When asked about their intentions once the virus lockdown ends, respondents on the whole expressed some caution about going out to bars and restaurants immediately after lockdown restrictions were ended – around 30% said they would be less likely to visit a restaurant, while 21% said they would be more likely.

The Wine Intelligence UK COVID-19 Impact Report will be available for purchase on the 14th of May 2020. It includes latest insights pre, during and predicted post COVID-19 restrictions, including drinks repertoire, wine buying and consumption behaviours, brand health and lifestyle behaviour changes.

Commenting on the report, Wine Intelligence CEO Lulie Halstead said: “The UK is an example of an emerging pattern in key wine consumption markets during this extraordinary period of upheaval. Consumers are enjoying wine more often, both at mealtimes and at new ‘lockdown’ occasions. The UK wine consumer has, temporarily at least, reversed their long-established trend towards drinking less but better, and is now seeking volume and value – and significantly increasing their exposure to online channels of purchase.

“At the same time Britain’s wine drinkers are understandably cautious about what comes next. Respondents are telling us that expensive holidays and big social events do not seem appropriate, but small indulgences like trying new food and wine resonate more.”

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