Online sales climb 23% of direct-to-consumer wine revenue in the United States

Data continues to pour in on the speed of the transfer of wine, beer and spirits sales directly to U.S. consumers amid the economic disruptions linked to the coronavirus over the past three years.

The latest figures from the alcoholic beverage industry’s leading lender Rabobank suggest the share of online sales in all off-premises purchases of these libations has doubled from pre-pandemic levels, reaching $ 6.1 billion nationwide last year. And the report predicts that the online channel will be the main driver of industry growth for years to come.

Online sales totaled about 4% of off-premises alcohol sales in the United States last year, up from nearly 1.9% of sales in 2019, according to RaboResearch’s new “2022 Alcohol E-commerce Playbook” .

One of the top four e-commerce channels for alcoholic beverages is direct-to-consumer wine, according to the report. In addition to the 73% growth in those sales in 2020, with tasting rooms predominantly in California having been closed for months that year, online wineries sales last year continued to be ” well above pre-pandemic levels ”, although tasting room sales rebounded to record levels.

Online sales now account for 23% of the $ 7.2 billion in revenue from direct sales of wine to consumers in the United States, according to the report.

California has opened up direct-to-consumer shipping to artisanal stills in the state during the pandemic, extending that allowance until March 31 from a sunset expected at the end of the year.

E-commerce will be the primary driver of the alcoholic beverage industry’s growth over the next decade, according to Bourcard Nesin, analyst at RaboResearch Food & AgriBusiness and author of the report. He said it would be a “part of brand building, awareness and testing, both online and in store.”

“Companies that do not proactively invest in their e-commerce teams will find it difficult to stay relevant and maintain market share,” he said in the report announcement.

The other three major alcoholic beverage e-commerce channels mentioned in the report are online grocery stores, online liquor markets, and licensed specialty retailers.

Online sales of grocery libations have jumped 238% year-over-year in 2020 and 9% last year, according to the report. These sales are expected to increase by 15% this year, as the number of stores offering online orders has increased significantly.

Two online marketplaces – Drizly, now owned by Uber, and Instacart – account for 86% of sales on this channel, the report notes. The addition of millions of consumers and thousands of stores using their platforms has boosted their sales by 274% year-over-year in 2020, with another 15% growth expected this year.

And major liquor chains, state-owned stores and independent stores have jumped into online ordering, with sales increasing 151% in 2020 from a year earlier. This growth was driven by operators offering local delivery and curbside pick-up for the first time.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Prior to the Business Journal, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. He graduated from Walla Walla University. Contact him at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.


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David A. Albanese