Champagne sales decline blamed on Brexit

Champagne sales dropped in both value and volume terms in the UK last year, driven by the fall in the value of the pound, a reduction in discounting by supermarkets and a “growing appetite” for premium-priced options, according to the Champagne Bureau (CIVC).

The Champagne trade body’s latest figures show sales (for the on and off-trades) in the UK dropped by 8.7% in volume in 2016, to 31.2m bottles, although the UK remains the second-largest market in volume terms. Value sales were also hit, dropping 14% to £382m.

The fall in the value of the pound has been blamed for these figures; UK sterling fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 following the EU refurendum vote last June. 

In a statement the CIVC also pointed to a drop in reduced priced own-label Champagne in supermarkets, which it said has been a positive move.

Champagne Bureau director Francoise Peretti said: “It seems that UK customers are no longer seduced by the cut-priced propositions but their appetite for premium-priced Champagnes is plainly growing with rose and prestige cuvees gathering momentum.

“We should not be surprised. Champagne was always meant to be at the pinnacle. What we see here is a reinforcement of that special status in the minds of most of its loyal customers.”

At London wine merchant Jeroboams, wine director Peter Mitchell confirmed there is a move towards the premium end of the market by consumers. He said: “At the very top end of premium cuvees, sales remain strong despite high and increasing prices and little or no discounting.”

The figures are a stark contrast to those relating to sparkling wine in the UK. Recent data from the Wine & Spirit Trade Association's Q1 market report show a record 40 million bottles of sparkling wine flew off the shelvs in UK shops in the 12-week festive period of 2016, up by 12% on 2015. Sparkling wine sales are also predicted to rise by 18% between 2016 and 2020 (Vinexpo, Global Wine Market report). 

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