C-Store Alcohol Sales Up

Catalina, Koupon report finds consumers buying more wine, beer, spirits amid COVID-19 crisis
adult beverage graph
Photograph courtesy of Catalina

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alcohol sales have increased in convenience stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part of what’s causing this is the rise in popularity of virtual happy hours, which are driving consumers to c-stores later in the day and boosting alcohol sales, according to Koupon, which partnered with Catalina to track the impact of the coronavirus on buying behavior in retail outlets.

Total dollar sales in c-stores increased 6% for beer, 9% for wine and 24% for spirits, according to a report from Catalina and Koupon. The companies looked at sales for the 10-week period ending on May 2, which included the time sheltering in place orders were widespread nationwide, and compared that to the same period a year ago.

In that time, 32% of wine buyers were new to the category within the c-store, and 17% of those first-time buyers made a repeat purchase, according to the report.

For consumers buying both before and during the crisis, wine basket size was up 4%, beer 11% and spirits 6% in c-stores, Catalina and Koupon found.

“During the initial panic-buy period, the wine category saw the same consumer pantry-loading behaviors as other categories like paper towels and shelf-stable goods,” said Jeff Dubiel, chief marketing officer of The Wine Group, Livermore, Calif. “As we have seen with previous crises, the increased purchase and consumption continued to hold following the initial wave of pantry-loading as consumers adapted to sheltering in place.”

C-store sales returned to year-over-year growth levels across most in-store categories for the week ending on May 3, and as more states begin to reopen, consumer goods producers will adapt, according to the report.

St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Catalina is a purveyor of shopper intelligence and personalized digital media for consumer packaged goods brands and retailers. Earlier this year it partnered with Koupon, a promotion product in small-format retail.

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