Year-on-year comparison shows increase in online purchasing of alcohol, reports Bridgethorne


A steady move upwards in the number of those ordering alcohol online for home delivery is one example of the way in which we are shopping for our groceries is subtly changing. This is according to a year-on-year comparison of research data from Bridgethorne, the category and shopper management specialist.

Shopping for alcohol in large supermarkets has stayed relatively constant year on year (July 2015 – July 2016) with an average across the year of 73% of shoppers saying it’s the main place they go to purchase. But there has been a steady move upwards for those ordering alcohol online for home delivery, which peaked, perhaps unsurprisingly, in the last quarter of last year with people buying for Christmas at 16%. There has also been a significant move up in those buying alcohol from small supermarkets or convenience stores up from 20% to 29% year on year. By life stage, the retired (42%) and those in the pre-family stage (also 42%) are bigger purchasers of alcohol than empty nesters (31%).

“These findings point to two changing shopper habits,” explains John Nevens, joint managing director, Bridgethorne. “First the continuing trend towards smaller shops and convenience stores, where the purchase of alcohol, in this case, may be a spontaneous treat for that evening rather than something planned for an occasion. The gap between purchase and consumption may be shorter. Second, more shoppers seem to be buying online rather than in bricks and mortar stores for heavier goods, like cases of wine or trays of beer. This could be a case of ‘I go online for the week or for my bigger purchases’.”

But, adds Nevens, alcohol ranges in smaller supermarkets and convenience stores have also become much better than they were.

“Alcohol in smaller outlets tends now to be merchandised in chillers, the ranges are a little broader and, sometimes, even smaller bottles are being stocked, all of which makes it easier for the spontaneous shopper to make a decision, encouraging purchase behaviour.”

The Bridgethorne research also shows that, on average across the year, 38% of respondents had purchased alcohol in the week prior to being surveyed. The high point for this during the year was 42% in October 2015, greater than the two months leading up to Christmas, which suggests that shoppers may have begun buying alcohol early for the Festive Season.

“This year on year data reflects the changing way in which shoppers are behaving, with our time-poor way of life prompting a demand for small shops as and when we need to purchase,” said Nevens.

“Retailers are starting to think about shopper missions this way. Brands and suppliers also need to get to grips with this changing shopper landscape and its impact across all retail formats.”