2021 was quite the year for liquor stores, and from the looks of it, beverage centers are still crushing sales in the retail space.
How do you know which trends you should get ahead of to keep going strong this year? We did some digging so you wouldn’t have to.
The Most Valuable Beverage and Package Store Trends
We’re going to present the best opportunities for liquor stores based on our industry expertise — however, keep in mind that not all of these trends may be worthwhile for your small business.
We did the heavy lifting, but it’s up to you to dive into your liquor store’s reports and analytics. Before making any huge changes to inventory or processes, be sure you understand the pros and cons of making them.
As a small business, you know that not every shot will hit the mark. But trying new things, taking risks, and getting ahead of what’s trending is part of the fun!
1. Larger Liquor and Beer Purchases
The first trend is exactly what it sounds like: This year, consumers will still opt for higher-than-ever average transactions when making alcohol purchases.
Why is that? It’s simple, really. People want to make the least number of trips as possible, so when they make their liquor store run, they’re reaching for larger liquor bottles and cases of beer instead of six packs.
When it comes to stocking your liquor store, shift your focus away from travel-sized bottles and smaller products. Instead, make sure large handles of top-selling liquor are in stock. (If you need help managing your inventory, check out our guide for stocking tips and tricks!)
For those who prefer beer or wine, give mix-and-match promotions a shot. Allow customers to build their own six pack of craft beer or choose three different bottles of wine for a percentage discount off the total. This way, your customers are stocking up on what they love and getting to try something new — which can keep them coming back if they love it!
2. At-Home Cocktail Creations
While bars are still open in several U.S. states, there’s a large percentage of the population that is still avoiding them — which brings us to our next trend.
Rather than risk their health by going out to a cocktail bar, consumers are opting for at-home creations this year. Most cocktails are pretty easy to make on your own, so why spend more money having someone else make your drink, anyways?
This is another inventory-related trend, but if it makes sense for your liquor store, consider bringing in more products that speak to the at-home cocktail drinkers.
You may already offer mixers, aromatic bitters, and unique ingredients for some of the most-loved concoctions, but if you don’t, now’s the time try. Maybe you add maraschino cherries and margarita salt to your stock to start. See how sales of these products go, and then kick it up a notch if they’re a hit. Some fun non-ingredient products to add are cocktail shakers, alcoholic beverage recipe books, and glassware.
3. More Package Store Tablets
Our next trend isn’t based on consumer changes, but hopping on this bandwagon could make a huge difference for your liquor store. Does your package store utilize tablets?
Let us explain. You know how we mentioned that consumers aren’t 100% comfortable visiting stores right now? Well, they are even more uncomfortable being in a store if it’s jam-packed with people.
Using tablets allows your staff to check people out in different spots throughout your store. You can alleviate the checkout line by completing tablet transactions with customers who have smaller-sized purchases.
If you’re limiting the number of people who enter your storefront at the same time, you can also use tablets to help customers who are in line outside. If they’re just coming in for a couple bottles of liquor, you can complete their purchase without them stepping a foot inside.
And if you offer curbside pickup, your employee can walk up to the customer’s car with their purchase and check them out using a tablet, too.
Don’t miss out on sales because you’re not getting people in and out of your liquor store fast enough. Nowadays, there’s no bigger turn-off than a long line of people in a small space.
4. E-Commerce Alcohol Purchasing, Pickup, and Delivery
Not everyone wants to come into stores. Whether they're still protecting against COVID exposure or they simply want the convenience of online ordering combined with curbside pickup or delivery, many consumers will choose to purchase alcohol online.
Alcohol e-commerce grew by 80 percent in 2020 alone. Growing popularity and shifting consumer expectations make this liquor store trend a lucrative opportunity for store owners willing to put in the work.
You know that alcohol sales are heavily regulated. So if e-commerce is a path you want to take for your liquor store, make sure you have legal experts on hand to ensure your efforts are compliant.
You'll also have to determine which e-commerce platform to use. It is crucial your platform of choice integrates with your liquor store's POS system. The last thing you want is to add more inventory work by using an e-commerce platform that's separate from your liquor store POS.
5. Ready-to-Drink Cocktails (RTDs)
Here's why this liquor store trend is one to jump on immediately: the ready-to-drink cocktail market is expected to expand from an $853 million market in 2022 to a $2.4 billion market by 2030.
Why? The biggest reason is a change in attitudes about health and alcohol. Health-conscious consumers want lower alcohol beverages that are "healthier" for them and taste great.
Large beverage companies have already taken note, with many of them introducing seltzer and RTD cocktail product lines to compete with popular seltzers like White Claw and Truly.
What does this mean for you as a liquor store owner? Be on the lookout for new canned cocktails and hard seltzers, teas, coffees, and kombucha to add to your inventory to align with new consumer desires.
Once you have them, you can use your liquor store's POS system to put together bundles and create promotions for your RTD beverage selection.
6. Low- and No-ABV Beverages
These types of beverages are popular for the same reasons as RTDs: a large portion of consumers have become more health-conscious. In 2021, no- and low-ABV beer, cider, spirits, wine, and RTDs grew to comprise 3.5 percent ($10 billion) of the volume share of the alcoholic beverage industry.
Consumers are looking for low-ABV or even non-alcoholic beverages that still provide the same "can-in-hand" satisfaction without the caloric load of full-flavored beers and cocktails.
As a liquor store owner, expanding your low- and no-ABV beverage selection can help reach new customers and increase average purchase value.
7. Contactless and Mobile Payments
As you may already know, mobile and contactless payments have been on the rise. And completing transactions without any touching is more important than ever.
It’s recommended to use a pinpad that allows customers to make a purchase by tapping their phone or credit card on the device. Consumers are loving this trend because they’re not handing their smartphone or credit card off to someone else. Your staff is less at risk, too, since there’s less passing back and forth.
If your liquor store is using tablets, find a way to eliminate the need for customers to touch them. Electronic signatures are being phased out, which is a great first step. If you have no choice but to utilize a card swipe on your tablet, consider letting the customer swipe their own card without touching the device.
With sanitation precautions at an all-time high, contactless pay is a game changer — especially since consumers have the option to do all of their shopping online.
Interested in additional features that could benefit your liquor store? Check out the top features we recommend having at your beverage or package store in the video below:
Getting Ahead of Liquor Store Competition
Doing industry research, checking in on business reports and analytics, and taking risks all contribute to running a successful liquor store.
Our team of experts has helped thousands of liquor stores like you master small business management, increase sales, and create happier customers.If you’re looking for other ways to stand out among your competitors, check out The Guide to Liquor Store Inventory Management! You can also take our retail POS software, CAP Retail by POS Nation, for a spin by scheduling a free demo.