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If you’ve been reaching for the booze to help pass the time during the stay-at-home orders set in place by most places around the United States, you’re not alone. New research shows a huge spike in online alcohol sales over the past few weeks, as people tap into subscription sites and delivery services to have beer, wine, and liquor shipped directly to their doors.
Drizly, an alcohol delivery service that touts drop-offs in 60 minutes or less, reports that sales were up a whopping 437% last month, compared to what they would have expected to see during this time. The site, which lets people order alcohol from more than 2,500 independent liquor stores and retailers across North America, says new users accounted for 27% of orders, compared to 15% normally.
The alcohol delivery app, Saucey, saw similar numbers, reporting a 400% uptick in sales since most States put stay-at-home orders in place in late March. Saucey, which offers under 30-minute delivery in select cities, says its average order size has increased too, with 32% jump in the dollar amount people are adding to their carts.
It isn’t just one-time deliveries that are gaining popularity; the online wine club, Winc reports a 111% increase in orders month-over-month from February to March. The site also reported almost 100,000 new members in March and April — about 2,100 new signups a day.
Winc’s wine club sends you a box of wine every month according to your preferences, but the site has switched up its offerings to let non-members make purchases online now as well (prices are about 10% cheaper if you’re signed up on the site). Numbers for April are still trickling in, but the company says it expects to see the upward sales trajectory continue for the foreseeable future.
Overall, data from the online shopping tracker, RetailMeNot, found that the beverage subcategory (which includes alcohol) saw a more than 90% increase in demand for March, over the same period a month earlier.
Sites claim the reasoning behind the numbers is simple: as people continue to stay home due to COVID-19 measures, delivery services are being seen as a safer alternative to shopping in-store. Grocery delivery services, like Instacart, have seen a flurry of new activity, and Drizly says the beverage alcohol industry is experiencing similar “unprecedented demand in e-commerce beverage alcohol sales” (i.e. ordering booze online).
For Drizly, that has translated to higher sales across its offerings, which include beer, wine, liquor and mixers, along with a selection of specialty beverages, like gluten-free beer, ciders and hard seltzers. The site says consumers could be exhibiting what it calls a “stock up” mentality during these uncertain times.
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Over at Saucey, the app has seen “gift orders” rise by 15x since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Wine is the most-sent gift followed by spirits,” says Adam Mead, Growth Marketing Manager at Saucey. “Beers and other drinks are far down the list.” Because Saucey’s alcohol delivery service offers 30 minute drop-offs in select cities, it’s become an ideal way to deliver last minute gifts.
For some alcohol delivery sites, the current social climate and stay-at-home regulations have forced them to find new ways to attract customers too.
ReserveBar, known for its selection of premium spirits, luxury champagnes and fine wines, is touting special limited-edition releases, as well as its custom engraving service, which lets you personalize a label on everything from champagne to scotch to tequila (see all custom engraving options here). Items can be shipped directly to a recipient, for an easy and thoughtful gift, say for the upcoming Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gift-giving seasons.
Among their limited-edition offerings: ReserveBar is the only place online to find “The Bootleg Series by Heaven’s Door.” Named after Bob Dylan’s famous “Bootleg Series,” each edition features one of Dylan’s paintings on a hand-made ceramic bottle, all packaged inside a leather case. The current series offers a 26-Year-Aged Whisky finished in Japanese Mizunara Oak barrels, one of the rarest and most expensive types of oak in the world.
ReserveBar also offers an impressive selection of unique and hard-to-find spirits, like Metallica’s BLACKENED Whiskey, which uses the rock band’s music to “sonically enhance” the flavor of an American whiskey, along with new favorites like TINCUP Rye, a straight rye whiskey cut to proof with Rocky Mountain water and named after the Tin Cup – a mining town founded in 1879 on the western edge of Colorado.
And then there’s Wine.com, a site that’s a favorite among oenophiles thanks to their extensive selection of rare and award-winning wines from around the world. They’ve tapped into their celebrity following during the quarantine, offering live-stream wine tastings with everyone from Jon Bon Jovi to John Legend (see full schedule here). Customers can purchase a bottle (or two) of wine online and sign up for a free wine tasting led by their favorite celeb and a wine expert from the site.
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“With stay-at-home measures in place, the wine industry has a unique opportunity to develop and improve the online experience,” said Wine.com founder Michael Osborn. “E-commerce enables tasting alongside global wine and spirits leaders, and the chance to hear firsthand details from such experts is extraordinary.”
Adds Wine.com CEO Rich Bergsund, “We’re excited to help our winery friends tell their incredible stories directly to our customers. In these trying times,” he says, “we hope this new format proves educational, entertaining and fun.”