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Brexit blamed for lower Christmas Champagne orders

A sharp drop in demand in October has been blamed on Britons' reining in the spend on Champagne in run-up to their first Christmas after the Brexit vote...

  • Brexit has ‘significant impact’

  • Drop in Champagne demand in UK ahead of Christmas selling season 

Falling Champagne sales were a hot topic at this year’s annual meeting of the Association Viticole Champenoise. Both co-presidents of the Comité Champagne, Jean-Marie Barillère and Maxime Toubart, talked about declining demand; unusual for the beginning of the Christmas party season.

Global Champagne orders fell by 2.7%, or six million bottles, in the first 10 months of 2016 versus last year, said Toubart, who is also president of the growers’ union, SGV.

In Europe, sales plummeted by 21% in volume in October compared to the same month of last year. UK and Germany suffered the biggest declines, although exact figures for each country will not be released until the end of the year.

Brexit and a tough exchange rate for British buyers have bitten hard, according to Barillère, who is also head of the Champagne house union. Houses saw sales fall faster than the market in October – down by 22.6% in Europe.

‘Brexit has had a significant influence on our end of year sales so far,’ said Barillère.

Barillère also suggested that initial figures showed the US drank more Champagne than the UK in October. The UK has long been the biggest market.

Toubart said that ‘it is unlikely the situation will change in the short term’.

Toubart said that he was worried about the Brexit impact on overall champagne stocks. ‘The difference in sales will add to the already large stock investments we carry today, and everybody in the region is concerned,’ he said.

The Brexit effect had not really been felt until September, with Champagne sales in Europe up 0.8% year-on-year. being fairly stable. But, Europe is now down by 5% versus the first ten months of 2015.

Dominique Demarville, cellar master at Veuve Clicquot, told Decanter.com that the company was paying close attention to the Brexit induced changes, but that he believed the situation will balance itself out in the long run.

‘The British have a longstanding relationship with Champagne, and their love for our wines will overcome this hurdle in the same way it has overcome many others in the past,’ he said.

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