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Online wine sales set to grow to 15% within three years

Published:  19 May, 2015

Online wine sales are set to increase to around 15% by 2018, according to new data from the Wilson Drinks Report.

Online wine sales are set to increase to around 15% by 2018, according to new data from the Wilson Drinks Report. 

The current online market for wine sales in the UK is around £725m, according to WDR's managing director Tim Wilson, with around half of that accounted for by the major grocers. with wine clubs, independents, and direct sales making up the remainder. It currently makes up around 11% of the UK market, compared to the off-trade, but Wilson said the trend was likely to grow over the next three years. 

"It shows online is both here to stay and likely to take a bigger share of the market," he said. "Growth for 2015 is expected to grow 12% this year, well ahead of flat retail sales."

He said there was also a growing trend for consumers buying via smartphone, and data from the Interactive Media in Retail Grop (IMRG), the trade association for e-retailers, showed this had grown from 30% to 40% in the last nine months. 

The value for total still wine was flat, compared to -3% across the off-trade, with sparkling also seeing a fall of 6%, due to the decline of promotional activity on champagne, which makes up a large proportion of  sales. 

Speaking at a briefing at the London Wine Fair yesterday, Wilson said red wine performed most strongly online dominated by France, Spain and Australia, in contrast to the off-trade, where Australia is the number one country for red wine. Value sales of white were also dominated by France, with New Zealand dropping to second place, although it still took the largest proportion of volume sales. 

"Online channels are suited to premium wines and France is taking full advantage," Wilson said. 

He also noted more flexible payment methods, as price was less of a driver for consumers. 

"Last year we saw fixed price bands, now there are flexible sliders which the consumers sets, so you will see greater sophistication in searching and pricing," he said. 

Research conducted through the WDR online consumer panel, which is run with LWS, showed a higher proportion of men buying wine (62%), compared to women, with 93% saying they brought red, 87% buying white and 65% buying sparkling.

Wilson previously told Harpers that online retail provided a huge opportunity for independent retailers as the UK retail industry shifted.