Drinkers trade down to cheaper wines

Survey reveals a rapid shift by consumers forced away from £5-£6 bracket

The gloomy economic conditions are causing consumers to cut their spending on wine as they desert higher price brackets in favour of cheaper alternatives.

A poll of 1,000 regular wine drinkers by Wine Intelligence for the Wine & Spirit Trade Association reveals there has been a marked shift away from the £5 -£6 market and a corresponding increase in those spending less than £5, particularly in the £4 -£5 range.

According to the figures, the number of shoppers spending between £5 and £6 has dropped by almost a quarter in the past three months, from 22% to 17%.

And the typical amount customers are willing to pay for various drinking occasions is also down across the board, ranging from a drop of 12p for everyday wine to 20p-30p less on a bottle for a special occasion.

The figures appear to support moves by retailers to redefine their ranges, putting greater emphasis on wines at lower price points, but will concern suppliers who believed consumers used to paying upwards of £5 would be slower to trade down than more casual drinkers.

However, Wine Intelligence claimed that for the first time among this audience, 72% rate promotions as the key factor when buying wine, ahead of grape variety.

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the WSTA, said: "These figures testify to the harsh reality facing millions of consumers with budgets squeezed and increasing pressure to reduce spending where possible.

"The survey reinforces our view that continuing steps to push alcohol prices up using tax as a blunt weapon are wholly inappropriate."