UK retailers report strong Christmas for Prosecco, Bordeaux, Bucks Fizz

  • Wednesday 8 January 2014

Magnums of Prosecco and Champagne surged in popularity over Christmas, according to UK supermarket Sainsbury's, with several retailers including Majestic and Tesco reporting higher festive wine sales versus 2012.

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Early signs suggest UK wine drinkers banished concerns about the country's fragile economy to buy more bottles over the Christmas period than they did a year before.

Prosecco, long touted as a rising star in the sparkling wine category, stood out as a top performer. Sainsbury's saw Prosecco sales rise by 41% in volume terms between the 18 and 31 December, versus the same period of 2012, a spokesperson for the UK's second largest supermarket told decanter.com.

Magnums of Sainsbury's own-brand Taste the Difference Prosecco showed sales up by 291%, albeit this is off a relatively low base.

'Between Christmas and New Year, sparkling wine sales were up considerably versus the same period last year, with Prosecco accounting for much of the growth,' a spokesperson for Tesco said. 'Sales of our own label Plaza Prosecco were up nearly 200% and [Tesco] finest Prosecco sales trebled.'

Tesco also sold 'considerably more' ready-mixed Bucks Fizz. Most growth in Tesco's wine sales over the Christmas period has come from 'existing shoppers increasing spend', the spokesperson added.

Prosecco may have stolen the headlines, but Champagne, Bordeaux, English sparkling wine and some New World wines also enjoyed a good festive period at various retailers.

'Champagne has been selling very well at Grand Marque level,' Majestic Wine's chief executive, Steve Lewis, told decanter.com. 'It's at the entry-level that consumers are switching to other sparkling wines.'

Majestic said today (8 January) that net sales for the 10 weeks to 6 January rose by 5.9%, and by 2.8% if sales from new stores are excluded. 'We're very pleased,' said Lewis.

Alongside Prosecco and Champagne, he highlighted other strong performers as South African wine at the £5.99 price-point and Argentinian Malbec, as well as sparkling wines from England and New Zealand.

A revamp of the retailer's fine wine business continued to pay off over Christmas, Lewis said. 'We lost the plot a bit in fine wine,' he said, commenting on the decision to refocus on central London consumers and on classics, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo and Brunello, with some New World.

'We've just had a good Christmas for Bordeaux, focused on the £18 to £25-a-bottle price point. There's quite a lot of mature wine out there that negociants have got.'

At London retailer The Sampler, co-owner Jamie Hutchinson said of Christmas, 'after a few years of poor sales, mid-range Bordeaux, from £15 to £60, did very well, as did grower Champagne'. Overall, The Sampler saw like-for-like sales rise by around 6% over the Christmas period, although Hutchinson said demand was 'poor' between Christmas and New Year.

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