No need to worry about U.S. wine sales – convenience store wine will save us

Convenience store wine: Table wine sales increased 20 percent in 2018

Table wine sales in U.S. convenience stores increased 20 percent in dollar terms in 2018, the second year in a row that c-store sales outperformed the overall U.S. market. That 20 percent figure could be as much as five times the growth in the overall U.S, wine market.

And no, I don’t understand why, either.

But those are the statistics in the 2018 state of the c-store industry report, published by the National Association of Convenience Stores. Convenience store wine sales in 2018, which include sparkling wine, fortified wine, and wine coolers, totaled $1.66 billion. That’s an amazing number. Take out the wine coolers, which the wine industry numbers may not include, and it’s possible that almost 2 percent of the wine sold in the U.S. last year came from a 7-Eleven, RaceTrac, QuikTrip, Speedway, and the like.

Association spokesman Jeff Lenard says there may be several things going on to account for all of that wine:

• About one percent more convenience stores sold wine in 2018. That total is almost half of the 153,000 U.S. locations.

• “More than anything else,” he says, “the increase in wine sales pairs (pardon the pun) with the increase in food service and more upscale foods that more convenience stores are selling.” In other words, fresh sandwiches and salads, which have become a c-store staple over the past couple of years, lend themselves more to wine sales than Big Gulps and those rubbery, orange-ish hot dogs spinning away in a corner.

• Younger consumers (18-34) are the predominant age group for convenience stores. And those of legal drinking age tend to be less fussy about where they buy wine than Baby Boomers, says Lenard. “Younger consumers are the ones who are least likely to think about a specific channel to purchase wine. They think wine or liquor store. Or dollar store. Or online wine club. Or gas station.”

• Women, who buy most of the wine in the U.S., are slightly more likely to buy gas in the evening, he says. “So can they also pick up wine for dinner then? Absolutely.”

Photo courtesy of Monica E using a Creative Commons license

2 thoughts on “No need to worry about U.S. wine sales – convenience store wine will save us

  • By kayjay - Reply

    Great summary of the state of that segment right now, and no doubt that it is true from independent importer experience here in the far NW U.S.. We used to turn our noses up at being in C-stores, but it’s been a positive and refreshing snowball effect: young customers want less a formal approach to finding good values, C-stores match that demand with their beer and food (and then finally, wine) offerings, so more end up shopping there and good sales justify sometimes surprising resets and selections. Pow, 20% increases make complete sense while the yawner five-high wine sets in the far back corner of chain grocery stores are flat. And it ain’t just Flip-Flop Moscato anymore!

  • Pingback: Liquor Industry News 07-22-19 | Franklin Liquors

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