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Christmas Alcoholic Drinks Sales Drivers

Everyone is very much aware that alcoholic drinks drive sales at Christmas. The way the calendar is configured this year favours small stores. Christmas Eve/New Years Eve on a Sunday cuts off sales in multiples by late afternoon leaving the way clear for small stores.

The mix of sales and the trends change year on year. A number of themes are coming through for 2017.

  • A move to low or no alcohol variants. Particularly in lager.
  • The shift from standard to premium. This is becoming prevalent in the spirits category.
  • An increase in the cocktails at home activity.
  • Drinks for socializing, which in turn is linked to cocktails and sparkling wines.

Beers & Ciders

Categories and growth trends to watch

  • Craft ales and amber ales.
  • Low/no alcohol lagers
  • Flavoured lager
  • Flavoured ciders
  • Multi-packs for sharing and parties.
  • Mini kegs – sales are growing fast from a low base.


The entire category enjoys growth and again there is a move to more premium & higher priced products.

  • Sparkling wine continues to be a category driver. Sales of Prosecco are very strong. Don’t neglect Spumante’s and Cava’s as alternatives.
  • Fruit wines are in growth.
  • Rose wine is a popular party drink.
  • Vermouths are an important cocktail mixer so should be available.
  • Single serve 187ml sizes offer a great profit opportunity.
  • Champagne is always popular and will be in demand on both Christmas and New Years Eve.

Fortified Wines and Ports

There is still a robust market for sherry and port at Christmas. One version of each should be stocked.

Spirits & Liqueurs

Cocktails are the driver in this category. Gin is still leading the way in sales growth.

  • Premium gins and vodkas are growing strongly.
  • Malt whiskeys are taking off.
  • Bourbons remain highly popular
  • Shot spirits are strong sellers.
  • Miniatures are a great opportunity.
  • All 20cl and 35cl standard spirits see a big lift in the season.
  • RTD pre-mixes sell well. The top sku being Jack Daniels and Coke.
  • Cream liqueurs always lift off at Christmas. The leading brand continues to be Baileys.

Cocktails & Shots

It is very difficult to accommodate all ingredients for cocktails & shots in a small store. Some recommendations.

  • White Rum
  • Jagermeister
  • Malibu
  • Cointreau
  • Grand Marnier
  • Disaronno
  • Benedictine
  • Cherry Brandy
  • Blue Curacao
  • Grenadine

Cocktail Accessories

This area can yield great profits from a small space.

  • Lemon slices
  • Cocktail cherries
  • Umbrellas
  • Stirrers
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Straws

Mixer Drinks

There is a lot of brand development happening in this category. For years the leader has been Schweppes. Fever Tree and Fentimans are now challenging this position.  

  • The top selling mixer is tonic.
  • Ginger is now gaining popularity as a cocktail mixer.
  • Don’t neglect the low calorie versions of all the mixers.
  • Orange, pineapple and cranberry juice are important cocktail mixers.
  • Soda water & lemonade is important.

Enjoy the Christmas opportunity!

David Gilroy

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