It’s interesting to see how tough economic times affect the sale of liquor. You’d think wine and other alcoholic beverages would be among the first to be dropped from the monthly shopping list when times are tough. But Distell, one of our biggest producers of alcoholic drinks, reported a slight increase in sales in the six-month period up to December. The strong rand is slowing export sales and encouraging competitive imports, the global economy is in a poor state, commodities like electricity and petrol are increasing in price, but Distell’s revenue rose by 3,6% during the six month period, and the volume of sales increased by 2,8%. According to group MD Jan Scannell, it was domestic sales that fared best. I wonder whether people are simply buying more wine and spirits to drown their sorrows. “Can’t pay the rent, can’t afford to go out to dinner, can’t go to movies, ag what the hell, let’s buy a couple of bottles of Tassies and get sloshed.” I suspect many people are “buying down” in these tough times. It’s relatively easy to do in our local wine market, where we have wines ranging from R20 a bottle to more than R1000. (And some of those at the lower end of the scale are actually perfectly drinkable.) If your regular bottle of red wine costs you R50, you may feel it necessary to cut back and buy a R39 bottle instead. It still hasn’t reached the point where we are reduced to drinking water, thank goodness. Distell, of course, is ideally pitched to deal with the downturn. They produce wines at all price points. If you feel their flagship red, Laszlo, is beyond your reach now, you can step down to a Fleur du Cap Merlot, and when your budget shrinks even more, settle for an Obikwa Pinotage. In fact, you might be so surprised at the value-for-money of some of the cheaper labels, you may even find your wine consumption increasing in these “tough” times. I’m sure Mr Scannell won’t object.
Photograph courtesy of Distell/Fleur du Cap