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These are extraordinary times, of that there’s no doubt, and in response, extraordinary behaviours come in different shapes and sizes.
I heard just last week from an owner of a wine bar, delicatessen and off license that their shift to home delivery, given the enforced closure of the wine bar, was yielding a good level of sales. Not that surprising given the thirst of locals has no reason to subside by simply having to stay indoors.
What struck me, and the owner, was the amount of stocking-up taking place – ordering by multiple bottles, even case-loads, rather than top-up purchasing. Again, not especially surprising – loo rolls and wine exist in parallel it seems. And also, that customers were choosing to trade up. The bio-dynamic and organic wines on the list from this place are not cheap to start with, it should be said. But £40+ wines were commonly selected in the mix.
This is good news for the wine bar. They’ve dropped Deliveroo and improved their margin while only taking on some local journey planning pain for the twice weekly local rounds. Profit tick. I hear other local wine stores are experiencing similar situations – the top shelf has never had it so good.
It reflects interestingly on how some consumers, those who are fairly insulated and wealthy to begin with it must be said, and so not fearing for their income, will easily persuade themselves that they need a treat in these circumstances. And perhaps also a good example of how comparative price and expenditure is an important consideration in decision making. So, “I would have spent £30 going out on a fairly regular bottle plus food etc, so I’ll spend more on a bottle (or a few bottles) from a local supplier and take the chance to upgrade…” goes the rationalisation, as opposed to using a supermarket equivalent bottle comparison which would almost certainly be cheaper and may even be closer to their ‘normal’, perhaps more ‘price rational’ behaviour.
Throw in to the mix the positive feelings of added support for a local trader and you have a profitable outcome in a time of crisis and a nice little behavioural economics play.
I am thinking more about those that can’t afford these luxuries than those that can in this time, please be assured. But it’s interesting to think about how treats take their place alongside the essentials in our baskets for those that can.
Stay safe and enjoy your Organic Primitivo, or personal equivalent, in quiet comfort.
This article was written by Matt Coles, Director.