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Cheers! Raising a Glass to Beverage Retail

by 
Ezra Carmel
 on 
July 12, 2023
Cheers! Raising a Glass to Beverage Retail

When we last checked in with the alcoholic beverage (BevAlc) retail category, prominent players in the space were sipping on a pandemic boom. Halfway through 2023 and BevAlc foot traffic is still filled to the brim. But is there more to the continued success of the space than a pandemic-driven phenomenon? We poured a generous glass of location analytics for the BevAlc retail category in order to take a closer look at what’s driving visits to the space in 2023. 

Let it Flow, Let it Flow

The BevAlc retail category’s growth began prior to the pandemic. Compared to a January 2018 Baseline, visits to some of the biggest players in the space – Total Wine & More, Spec’s, BevMo!, and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits – were already at elevated levels in 2019 and early 2020. But visits surged in mid-2020 when COVID restrictions drove many consumers to enjoy their favorite drinks at home or encouraged them to take up bartending as a hobby

Since then, the demand for BevAlc retail doesn’t appear to have sobered. For almost all of these brands, December 2022 saw the largest visit peak in five years. It’s likely that inflation is leading some consumers to take an economical approach to beverage consumption – enjoying drinks at home and forgoing some bar visits. 

Demand and Expand

In light of the growing demand for at-home beverage consumption, Total Wine & More is expanding into new markets. The chain opened its first location in Indiana in 2020 and now has four stores in the state after three additional openings in 2022

Analysis of visit metrics for Total Wine & More’s locations nationwide and in Indiana revealed how quickly the brand is taking off in the region. Since January 2022, visit growth of the brand’s Indiana stores outperformed the chain’s nationwide average. And in the first half of 2023, the percentage of visitors who visited a location at least twice was greater in Indiana (32.1%) than for the chain as a whole (27.1%). 

This suggests that consumers in Indiana have been receptive to the arrival of Total Wine & More, perhaps in part due to the brand’s investment in educating consumers. Each location has a “Wine Education Center” where visitors can learn about wine, beer, and spirits and explore new products. This may be helping visitors cultivate an interest in Total Wine & More’s beverage assortment.  

Total Wine & More Markets 

Diving deeper into the beverage consumption of visitors to Total Wine & More provides further evidence that the chain’s expansion into Indiana is finding fertile ground. The consumption behavior of visitors in Indiana closely resembles that of the chain’s largest markets in California, Texas, and Florida – which suggests that the brand is reaching its intended audience. 

Analysis of Total Wine & More’s captured markets during the first half of 2023 (H1 2023) using the AGS: Behavior & Attitudes dataset revealed that relatively similar shares of wine drinkers visited the chain in California (46.3%), Texas (43.0%), Florida (43.5%), and Indiana (43.4%) all of which were higher than the nationwide benchmark of 31.5%. A similar pattern was evident across markets for champagne and craft beer consumption. This indicates that Total Wine & More’s new stores in Indiana are successfully attracting the brand’s target audience as established by legacy markets. 

Last Call

Foot traffic to the BevAlc retail category has been on the upswing for a number of years. After receiving a pandemic boost, the BevAlc category has sustained visit growth, in part due to the many consumers looking to save money by drinking at home. As demand persists, Total Wine & More continues to tap into new markets where beverage enthusiasts are plentiful. 

For updates and more data-driven foot traffic insights, visit Placer.ai.

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