With consumers’ thirst for RTDs, rosé wines and high-end Tequilas poised to accelerate this summer, retailers are gearing up for the season. Los Angeles store The Wine House, which saw online sales and curbside pick-up fuel 9% sales gain in 2020, reopened to foot traffic on May 13 after being closed for 15 months. During the first weekend open to in-store customers in 2021, the store had a daily total of about 80 on-site purchases plus 90 curbside orders. “We are easing into in-person shopping,” store owner Glen Knight explains. “It will be a solid summer, but we are budgeting 5% less than last summer. It’s hotel and restaurant time. Everyone wants to get out of the house and start traveling again.”
At New Jersey-based Gary’s Wine & Marketplace, which has a location in Napa, California as well, sales are ramping up. “Customer demand is through the roof for rosé wines, hard seltzers, and pre-mixed spirits-based cocktails,” says CEO and founder Gary Fisch. The top-selling domestic rosé brands at Gary’s year-to-date are Wölffer Estate ($22 a 750-ml.), Matthiasson ($16), and Second Growth ($15). The store’s top-selling imported rosés are Château d’Ésclans Whispering Angel ($19.09), Gérard Bertrand Cote Des Roses ($15) and Belle De Provence ($13). “Packaging is very important for rosés, and we typically see canned rosé sales accelerate during the summer months,” Fisch says. Boxed wines are also doing well, especially in the 3-liter size. “Boxed wines remain at elevated sales levels, but revenue is down relative to sales around this time last year in the heat of the pandemic,” Fisch adds. “We anticipate boxed wines to continue growing as an economical option.”
Meanwhile, Tequila is growing at double-digit rates at Gary’s, with Casamigos Blanco Tequila, ($41 a 750-ml.) leading sales. “Premium Tequila sales are up 30% year-to-date,” Fisch says. “We are facing ongoing supply issues for many popular brands. Our guests are looking for new brands, such as Penta Diamante Reposado Cristalino Tequila ($100), which has had a great initial response.” Demand continues to outpace supply, though it’s slightly better than 2020. “This past year has been the most challenging when it comes to maintaining product stock,” Fisch notes.
Consumer purchasing trends will shift with the increase of in-store shopping. “Last summer, the vast majority of our business was online,” Fisch says. “This summer, we anticipate online sales to represent 30% of total sales. Due to an influx of in-person customers, we expect more purchases of craft and local brands.”
At Arrow Wine & Spirits, which has three stores in Dayton and Mason, Ohio, hard seltzers are trending as well, along with California Cabernet Sauvignon and French wines. “Pre-made cocktails are on the rise, as are low-calorie cocktails and hard seltzers,” says general manager and co-owner Beth Freyvogel. The retailer notes that supply for some products can be hit or miss. “High-end Champagne is non-existent,” she says. “We are having trouble getting luxury Tequila, but the category is still very popular and Mezcal is rising. Bourbon is also limited, and there aren’t as many beer choices from each brewery.”
In addition, RTD brands like Two Robbers Seltzer ($18 a 12-pack of 12-ounce cans) and Canteen Seltzer ($13 a six-pack of 12-ounce cans) are both quickly accelerating, and the Two Chicks canned cocktail brand ($12 a four-pack of 12-ounce cans) is a customer favorite. Freyvogel notes that while retail sales are down from the pandemic peak, they’re way up from 2019. “Everyone is still drinking more,” she says.