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Go figure: Convenience stores are selling more wine than ever

convenience store wine

Who knew 7-Eleven and its competitors had become wine destinations?

Convenience store wine sales increased five percent last year, more than the overall wine market

Convenience stores are selling more wine than ever – and no, no one quite knows why.

Wine sales in convenience stores increased five percent in dollar terms in 2017, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores. That’s an amazing figure, given that overall wine sales in the U.S. have been mostly flat for the past couple of years.

“If anything, it’s a 10-year overnight success story,” says Jeff Leonard of the convenience store association. “It has taken a sustained effort by retailers to believe in the category to the point where consumers largely expect to be able to find wine – and the kind they want – at convenience stores.”

In this, convenience stores are likely taking wine sales away from supermarkets, but given the convoluted way wine statistics work, no one is quite sure. It’s also worth noting that wine sales grew almost five times as much as bottled water, a convenience store staple (albeit from a small base).

So what’s going on? Why are more of us buying wine at 7-Eleven, QuikTrip, Circle K, and the like:

• Better selection, as Leonard notes. It’s not just private label wine from 7-Eleven, but high-end wines – you can spend $50 for a bottle of Napa’s Stag’s Leap. Thank Big Wine for that. As the the biggest producers buy more companies, they need more retail outlets, so why not convenience stores?

• Younger consumers don’t see convenience stores the same way the Baby Boomers do. We associate convenience stores with Thunderbird and 4-liter boxes of sweet wine, which was about all you could buy there 30 years ago. They grew up with more and better choices.

• One-stop shopping. Says Leonard: “If consumers can go to one place to get gas, food and wine at one stop, that is more attractive than three stops.”

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