Crazy times. Surreal. Uncertainty. These are some ways we describe the Coronavirus outbreak and the consequences. But what about…
What we’re drinking and how that has changed.
According to Seriouslysmoked.com, a cooking and BBQ website compiled more than 200,000 tweets from the last 30 days and analyzed their contents using keywords, phrases, and hashtags.
Their findings will surprise you.
Surge in Sales
Perhaps the scars of Prohibition still run deep. An overriding theme in the collected data was panic buying and stockpiling. The figures tell a dramatic story.
Alcohol sales ending the week of March 21 surged 55 percent.
Teasing those numbers reveals some shocking but not altogether unpredictable trends that SeriouslySmoked.com noted.
The volume of 1.75 liter-sized bottles sold increased dramatically.
Cheaper and more affordable brands saw significant upticks.
Half-bottles and luxury brands, not so much.
The latter makes sense given the uncertain economic situation. Many who didn’t have a liquor budget are probably reconsidering it now.
However, it’s essential to put these data in perspective. Many restaurants aren’t open for dine-in customers. The wine you’d enjoy with your steak entree, you’re now consuming at home. That’s evident when you look at the meteoric rise of online sales.
Wine.com, for example, saw a 200 percent increase during this same time.
What Else Are People Buying—or Not Buying?
SeriouslySmoked.com uncovered some other trends that the industry statistics support. Unlike in Europe, Americans reserve their sparklers for celebrations. The pandemic has hit that continent hard too.
Consequently, Champagne says have taken a nosedive.
However, it’s probably not too much of a stretch to guess that Champagne will recover just fine when we all start painting the town red when all of this is behind us.
Interestingly, alcohol products that have seen slow declines are now enjoying something of a comeback, such as port and other fortified spirits.
Tequila and gin have also seen sales spikes, but that’s not all. Canned and packaged beverages are enjoying a similar surge.
Canned wine, for example, wasn’t a serious thing in the beginning. Now, with the outbreak, think again. The situation is fueling sales that rival its rise in popularity over recent years.
Yup. And probably for many of the same reasons of economy and getting more for your buck.
What else has changed?
The Industry Reinvents Itself
The unprecedented events have spurred many forces in the industry to reinvent themselves in innovative ways…
Restaurants and bars are sharing cocktail recipes as acts of solidarity to get through the crisis. Some are holding virtual tastings. We’re having virtual happy hours out of our homes.
Individuals are also reaching out to their favorite wineries and joining wine clubs in droves.
That’s especially significant given that most tasting rooms are closed. Cancellations of wine tours continue to grow with an uncertain future. The looming collapse of the summer tourist season weighs heavily on countless wineries.
Napa Valley visitor traffic brings $2.23 billion to the economy, according to the 2018 Economic Impact Report.
Luckily, e-commerce sales are surging with direct-to-consumer purchases, as SeriouslySmoked.com discovered too. Early figures show that online traffic has exceeded pre-pandemic volumes in some cases.
So there is hope that the industry will recover. But then what will happen?
The fact remains that the road ahead is uncertain, but likely has lots of twists and turns along its path. The questions that the industry and consumers ponder loom large.
Will wineries, breweries, and distilleries recover?
Will restaurants and bars open their doors again?
What is the future of online sales and its impact on brick-and-mortar stores?
One thing is clear from the data collected by SeriouslySmoked.com. Everyone is living in the moment. It’s hard to plan because the situation literally changes every day.
There are also some good takeaway messages from the responses of consumers and the industry.
We are supporting each other in a myriad of ways. The prospect of our favorite watering hole closing or hole-in-the-wall restaurant forever has given us pause.
Sure, we’ve adapted. The industry will survive too. It just might look a bit different on the other side. In the meantime, enjoy that new tipple that you’ve discovered. And support your local businesses.