Olympics frenzy fails to deliver gold for drinks retailers

17 August, 2012

The Olympics failed to deliver the anticipated boost in drinks sales, according to early indications from retailers. 

Although till data taken during the London 2012 games will not be available for several weeks, retailers have predicted sales will remain relatively flat. 

Euro 2012 proved a washout as 3% less alcohol was sold during the tournament than during the same period in the previous year, and it was hoped retailers would fare better during the Olympics.

But retailers said the event created volatile shopping behaviour and did little to boost sales.

Dawn Davies, wine and spirits buyer at Selfridges, said: “The Olympics has been a mixed bag of success for us. We traded well – up 11% on the year. 

“This was driven by two things – fine wine mainly purchased by foreign officials to ship back home, and spirits, with top end whiskies being sold as the gift to take home and Absolut London giving a good boost to sales. Where we lost out was on wines and Champagnes which both traded down due to lack of our regular local customers shopping as I believe they were all away.”

Naked Wines chief executive Rowan Gormley said: “Our Prosecco and Moscato sales shot through the roof. We thought that sales within London might take a slight dip, but Parcelforce came up trumps and managed to honour our next-day delivery service throughout the capital, so it was very much business as usual.”

Smaller retailers also experienced mixed fortunes. Cork’s Out owner Ruth Yates, said: “Trade was good but not as good as we thought it might be. Sales certainly didn’t suffer and we have had two fantastic weeks, which was welcomed after all the bad weather. I think it put people in a good mood and when they’re in a good mood they are happy to get involved and purchase.”

Daniel Illsley, whose Theatre of Wine store is next to the equestrian centre at Greenwich Park, said: “We were noticeably quieter – a lot of our regular customers stayed away from London or took their holiday to coincide with the games, and there was no significant footfall from those visiting Greenwich.” 

Matt Harris, owner of Planet of the Grapes in central London, called the Olympics an “unmitigated disaster”.

“Everybody was told to avoid central London due to Olympic tourists and it became a ghost town,” he said.

“It affected trade really badly, but now it is over trade is good again. If Boris Johnson, Seb Coe and Locog want to send some money to all the businesses that lost out, I’ll be the first in line.”

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