BC liquor and wine stores may continue seeing a permanent bump in online liquor sales and delivery as the pandemic becomes endemic and we all get back to something closer to “normal”.
In May 2020, Kantar, a data analytics and insights company, estimated that 30% of customers who bought alcohol online for the first time during the pandemic would remain long-term online alcohol shoppers.
During the pandemic, alcohol and cannabis sales increased across Canada by $2.6 billion. Joint research by McMaster University, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, and Homewood Research Institute revealed that liquor sales over the course of the pandemic were 5.5% higher than projections made before the pandemic.
In an interview with Food Dive in May 2020, Reid Greenberg, Executive Vice President of Digital and Ecommerce at Kantar, said that “Alcohol consumption as a whole is looked at very differently now. Those people who have adopted e-commerce have realized it’s much easier, and these companies have paved the way to make it much easier to facilitate e-commerce orders. The pipes have been laid and they’re not going to lie dormant.”
BC’s liquor online consumption rate hit a 20-year peak in 2021 according to University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR). As reported in the Vernon Morning Star, “Each British Columbian aged 15 years and older drank the equivalent of 9.32 litres of pure alcohol between April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 as alcohol consumption reached the highest rate in two decades”.
According to CISUR Director Tim Naimi. “This tells us the higher levels of consumption seen in the first few months of COVID were not the result of stockpiling, but of an overall increase in drinking sustained over the year”.
Naimi suggests that the increased consumption is partially driven by COVID-era changes in BC liquor policy, which led to increased hours, grants for developing online stores, expanded home delivery, and essential service status for BC liquor stores.
IWSR (International Wine & Spirit Research) released research findings that predicts beverage alcohol ecommerce value will grow by approximately 66% between 2020-2025.
“Among 16 focus markets examined by IWSR (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States), ecommerce value increased by about +12% in 2019, and then by almost +43% in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Looking ahead to 2025, ecommerce is projected to represent about 6% of all off-trade beverage alcohol volumes, compared to less than 2% in 2018” – IWSR.
According to Guy Wolfe, Strategic Insights Manager, IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, ecommerce has become engrained “cementing its place as the third sales channel for beverage alcohol purchase.”.
Whatever the reason for the increase in online liquor and delivery, BC liquor retailers will take it!
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