UK’s thirst for sparkling wine breaks sales record

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A record breaking volume of sparkling wine sold in UK shops and supermarkets at Christmas flew off the shelves for the first time during a 12 week run.

The end of year sparkling wine sales, revealed in the Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s (WSTA) latest Market Report, show stores made £270 million in the three month run up to Christmas, up 10% on the same period in 2015.

A further 5 million bottles were sold in pubs bars and restaurants during in the 12 weeks to 31/12/16, worth £127 million, up +37% on last year.

The combined on and off trade sales of sparkling wine was over 45 million bottles, up 54% in five years, when during the same period in 2012 sales reached short of 21 million bottles.

In total sparkling wine (not including champagne) sold 995,000 hectolitres – the equivalent of 132 million bottles – in shops, bars and restaurants during 2016 worth over £1.2 billion.

Britain’s love for sparkling wine means the Chancellor has received a tax windfall of around £468 million last year. If you add in duty paid on Champagne this takes the coffers paid into the treasury to over half a billion at £550 million. Total duty paid on sparkling and Champagne in the UK has doubled in 5 years and is up £60 million on last year.

With higher inflation, the impact of the pound’s devaluation and the potential for duty increases, the wine industry faces a potential triple whammy that could be devastating for the trade in 2017.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade, said: “The UK saw the largest ever quarterly sales of sparkling wine at the end of last year but with price rises looming we need government support to ensure that the bubble doesn’t burst when it comes to the British drinkers’ love for fizz.

“Wine is now the nation’s most popular alcoholic drink and it is vital that government backs the British wine trade which generates £17.3 billion in economic activity. We are calling on the Chancellor to cut wine and spirit duty by 2% at the Budget on Wednesday. This would benefit our industry, the consumer and boost Treasury coffers – just as it did two years ago.”

The sparkling wine category includes Prosecco, Cava and English sparkling wine amongst others and attracts 28% higher duty than still wine.

Some three quarters of English wine is sparkling and is benefiting from the Brits’ love of fizz with supermarkets reporting exceptional Christmas sales.