Beverage Alcohol Retailers Anticipate Demand In 2024

Stores stock up on super-premium wine, Tequila, Bourbon, and whiskey offerings. 

Bob Kreston, owner of Kreston Wine & Spirits in Delaware, believes demand for Bourbon, Tequila (aisle pictured), and RTDs will continue growth this year.
Bob Kreston, owner of Kreston Wine & Spirits in Delaware, believes demand for Bourbon, Tequila (aisle pictured), and RTDs will continue growth this year.

Beverage alcohol retailers plan to continue intensifying efforts to find unique, high-quality super-premium wines, whiskies, and Tequilas for customers this year. “We are going to focus on control brands that we direct-import,” says Ted Farrell, president of the Haskell’s chain in Minneapolis. One such brand is Australian private label Koala Ranch Chardonnay ($10 a 750-ml.), which features a modern, minimalist label that depicts a koala bear’s face using two dots and a wine glass. “We’ve had some sourcing issues,” Farrell says. “It went out of stock and now it’s back.”

While United States wine sales decreased last year, super-premium brands grew. “The sweet spot in overall sales is in the $12-to-$25 range,” Farrell says. “That’s where the volume is and where the money can be made. We have a lot of Côtes du Rhône and California Cabernet Sauvignons in that range.”

Popular wine brands at Haskell’s include Louis Martini Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon ($15 a 750-ml.), Second Growth Columbia Valley Cabernet ($18), La Crema Pinot Gris ($14.61), Gearbox Chardonnay ($16), and Angels Landing Napa Cabernet ($17). “We also do a lot of volume with any Vina Robles or Bourgogne blanc that we can get our hands on,” Farrell says. 

Two other significant trends retailers face are RTD over-saturation and continued strength for Tequilas and whiskies. “We are getting to the point of supersaturation where everyone is making a pre-mixed cocktail,” Farrell says. “We need to select by decent margin or brand name recognition that moves, such as Jack Daniel’s & Coca-Cola($10 a six-pack of 12-ounce cans).”

Led by High Noon ($12 a four-pack of 12-ounce cans at Haskell’s), Tito’s ($18 a 750-ml.), and Fireball ($12), spirits sales drove industry growth. “Tito’s is still a dominant force,” Farrell says. “It’s our No. 1 selling vodka. In pure profit numbers, Tito’s is No. 1. Fireball is No. 1 in bottle sales because 50-mls. ($2) are so popular.”

Top-selling Tequilas at Haskell’s include Patrón ($46 a 750-ml. of Silver), Casamigos ($47 a 750-ml. of Blanco), Clase Azul Plata ($147 a 750-ml.), and Vizón Blanco ($17 a 750-ml.). Retailers are becoming more selective of single barrel Bourbons. “One trend you are seeing is the scarcity of some of the brands is loosening up quite a bit,” Farrell says.

Haskell’s will continue promotions through email blasts, local television, and reduced newspaper ads. “We get the best result from email than all the other types of social media,” Farrell says. 

At Minneapolis-based Haskell’s, super-premium wines such as Australian private label Koala Ranch (display pictured) are doing well.
At Minneapolis-based Haskell’s, super-premium wines such as Australian private label Koala Ranch (display pictured) are doing well.

In Wappingers Falls, New York, Viscount Wines & Liquors plans to continue its focus on customer service and sourcing unique super-premium wines primarily from California and France. “We mostly concentrate on customer service in the hopes of making the shopping experience at our store good enough to keep people from looking at other sources for alcohol purchases,” says store manager Matthew Landolt. “Aside from our typical searches for large buys of non-name brand wines offering our customers significant value above the most popular brands, we will be upgrading our HVAC and temperature-controlled storage.” 

Viscount’s fastest-growing sellers are Tequila and wines priced at about $15 a 750-ml. “However, with many Tequilas taking unnecessary price increases repeatedly, that category could be forcing people to downgrade to lower-priced brands,” Landolt says.

RTDs remain inconsistent at Viscount. “We are trying to decrease the number of SKUs in this category and don’t expect continued growth overall,” Landolt says. “Bourbon continues to do well, but flavored whiskies are decreasing in sales.”

Bob Kreston, owner of Wilmington, Delaware-based Kreston Wine & Spirits, believes demand for Bourbon, Tequila, and RTDs will continue to grow along with consumer interest for alcohol-free spirits and beer, low-calorie wines, and natural and organic products. “We have a clientele always looking for new and exciting brands, including our barrel picks that continue growing,” he says. 

Last year, Kreston’s Middletown location expanded from 6,400 square feet to 11,200 square feet, and additional refrigeration is being installed this year. Kreston is also considering remodeling the shelving, refrigeration, and lighting at his Wilmington store this year. In addition, he plans to eliminate underperforming products and to include more social media in the store’s advertising. “We are known for our expanded wine and craft beer selections and will continue to focus on their growth,” Kreston says. “Keeping up with customer demand is key to success.”

For internet retailer, imported wine accounted for 58% of sales last year, up from 52% in 2019. During the same time period, red wine lost share to white, sparkling, and rosé, but red wines still account for 64.3% of company sales. “France, Italy, and Spain led the growth, while California and Washington saw the most significant negative trends,” says company founder and executive vice president Michael Osborn. “The most significant gain for a variety came from Sauvignon Blanc, up 1% over this period and now representing 4.7% of sales.”

Osborn anticipates customers will keep finding value in imported wines as California wine prices continue rising. is also innovating its website with personalized promotional campaigns. “Another industry-first feature we introduced in the fall is our new ‘map view’ navigation of our assortment,” Osborn adds.