The drug channel’s efforts to become a one-stop shop is having a positive effect on wine sales. Dollar sales grew 10.5% to $406.9 million for the 52 weeks ending June 13, 2010. While sales have been on the upswing for years, this year’s are significant in that they’re up in the double digits. Indeed, drug stores are increasingly eyeing wine as a profit maker. Walgreens, for instance, has reintroduced a limited beer and wine selection in about 3,100 of its stores. The drug store has plans to stock the alcohol in about 5,000 stores by the end of 2010, according to a published report. Likewise, CVS/Caremark sells wine, beer and spirits in more than 4,300 of its stores, according to the report.
Supermarkets are aggressively promoting the category as well, with new private-label introductions, wine-themed giveaways and even virtual wine tastings. What’s more, new merchandising tools are now at their disposal. For instance, shoppers at a Mechanicsburg, Pa., Wegmans and the Giant Food Store are testing wine kiosks as part of a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board pilot (see related story on page 14). To purchase wine, a buyer must insert their driver’s license in the kiosk, where age information on the bar code is processed. The photograph on the license is then matched with a video image of the buyer standing before the kiosk by a PLCB employee. The kiosks have a built-in breathalyzer to ensure the buyer is not under the influence. If a breath alcohol level of 0.02% or higher is detected, the consumer will be unable to make a purchase.
D&W Fresh Market, Grand Rapids, Mich., meanwhile, is offering virtual wine tastings. Consumers buy recommended wine and then learn about and taste them in an online class.