Champagne Sales Slipping in UK

Brits swapping champagne for cheaper wines

Champagne has long been the go-to wine for times of celebration, but either tastes are changing, or the thinning of consumers' wallets may be having an effect on sales. Recent research reveals that sales of sparkling wines, such as prosecco and cava, have surpassed those of champagne in the UK. This change began to occur after the recession hit, suggesting that tough times have made it harder to justify the purchase of expensive wines.

According to research company Mintel, champagne sales have fallen by a third whilst sparkling wine sales have risen nearly 50%. Before the recession hit Britain, champagne sales were more than £1 billion annually, while they now tally only £690 million. Sparkling wine sales have risen from £465 million in 2007 to £720 million in 2012.  

This doesn’t mean that the rest of the world is turning its back on champagne. Sales of it have grown worldwide in the past year; in fact exporters are citing 2011 as one of the largest years for champagne sales (second only to 2007). Russia, China and Hong Kong, which now count for 4.1 million bottles sold worldwide, have all grown by nearly twenty percent in the past five years. And one in five Britons now say that they would not consider drinking anything other than champagne.

Despite the shift away from champagne, the drink is still popular during Christmas, when there are dramatic price slashes. Sparkling wines are quickly replacing champagne even for celebrations, becoming commonplace for birthdays and holidays. There are also English sparkling wines, which have gained popularity over recent years, despite their niche status. Whether or not this trend holds steady as the economy continues to shift will be interesting to see. Until then, pass the prosecco!