DtC Wine Shipments Set New Record
October 2013 sales stronger than ever at $240 million
San Rafael, Calif.—Direct-to-consumer wine shipments hit a new high-water mark in October, passing the previous record by $16 million.
DtC shipments totaled $240 million, which is the most since at least 2009, when Wines & Vines/ShipCompliant began tracking the channel. The October total is 8% higher than the same period in 2012 and 7% higher than the previous record of $224 million set in November 2012. During the past 12 months, DtC sales have totaled more than $1.56 billion, which is 10% higher than the 12-months previous.
In addition to the robust DtC activity, off-premise sales in October remained higher than 2012, and winery hiring activity remained strong.
Off-premise sales were up over the previous year at the steady rate of 6% month to month and 7% in the past 12 months. According to Chicago, Ill.-based research firm IRI, sales reached $528 million in October and $7.2 billion during the past 52 weeks. October’s total was slightly lower than the $541 million spent in September.
Focus on Chardonnay sales
This month Wines Vines Analytics focused on Chardonnay. The varietal continues to be the most popular in the off-premise sales channel. Chardonnay accounted for 26% of the wine sold at convenience stores where bottle prices below $8 made up 73% of sales there. In other stores the figure was 44%.
Sales of Chardonnay via direct-to-consumer shipments were highest in the $20-$29 price bracket, where the value reached $34 million and the volume reached 114,000 cases during the 12 months ending in October. The other six price segments shown were relatively close in value. Note that the most expensive wines at $80-plus neared $16 million with only 15,000 cases.
Chardonnay represented 12% of the offers by flash reseller websites for U.S. wines in the past 12 months. Flash prices for the varietal fell between $9 and $19.99 for more than 70% of the 619 Chardonnays offered. The average winery retail price of all Chardonnay was $31, and the average flash price was $18.
Nine out of every 10 bottles of the domestic Chardonnay offered by flash were from California, with Napa and Sonoma counties accounting for about two-thirds of the total bottles. Last Call Wines’ 143 offers for Chardonnay was the most by a major reseller.
Overall, flash offers wine websites made a total of 447 offers in October, which is only 2% more than October 2012. The 12-month total through October of this year is also 2% less than the same period last year.
Hiring remains strong
Harvest may be done for most wineries in North America, but winery hiring continued its streak of strong activity. The Winejobs.com Index showed that job postings by wineries in October 2013 increased 8% from October 2012. Hiring activity remained above last year’s level for the ninth month in a row.
The October 2013 increase in job postings was driven by a 37% increase in winery hospitality jobs. The winery sales and marketing index increased 5% from its level in October 2012. The winemaking job index decreased 20% from its level in October 2012.
The Wines Vines Analytics winery database of all wineries in the United States now totals 7,632 wineries, which is an increase of 222 wineries, or 3% more than last year. California is home to 47% of all wineries, and the West Coast accounts for 63% of all wineries.