Americans flock to buy home cellars

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  • Wednesday 2 August 2006

Sales of wine coolers, chillers and refrigerators have soared by over 300% in the US.

Cellars sales through major chain and discount stores increased 302% over the last year, according to market research by ACNielsen. Cellars were defined as wine coolers, chillers or refrigerators in all forms and sizes.

Another study, by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, found that 4.3m households owned wine cellars. Over three million of these cellars were bought in 2003, compared with 600,000 in 2001 and 2002.

The trade association speculated that ‘the popularisation of wine cellars may be creating a new community of wine collectors, potentially expanding the American wine market.’

The soaring mass-market sales raise questions about the conventional wisdom that most Americans drink wine within four hours of buying it and that wine storage is an esoteric market.

‘No longer just a $2,000-plus elitist accessory for the ultimate wine geek, wine coolers have moved beyond specialty wine-accessory stores to mass-merchandising and discount outlets,’ said MKF Research, a Napa Valley wine-industry advisory firm. MKF reported the increase in cellar sales in its current MKF Research Monthly.

One retailer estimated the market value of home storage systems to be ‘US$800 million a year, with 85-90% of the sales being $200 units.’

‘The most popular wine coolers are small units, usually made in China, with Haier (a Chinese company, currently the world’s second-largest appliance maker), Avanti and Danby, the leading suppliers,’ said MKF.

The massive rise in purchases of home cellars is also symptomatic of home redevelopment. Elliott Mackey of the Wine Appreciation Guild, in San Francisco, said cellars have become ‘mandatory for home remodellings’.

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