A Wine Writers View on the World of Wine. Formerly Magics Wine Guide and Reviews for Newbies
We all go to the supermarkets. It’s a necessity of life. They offer us everyday items that we need to survive. Unfortunately they are dominating our High St. Driving the small independent business’s away.
Should this signal the end to local independent trade? In a word, no.
Supermarkets are convenient because they hold everything under one roof. They offer us huge discounts on a third of their range. They entice us with loss leading brands to drive us through their doors. After all, those of us in retail know it’s a business that operates on huge margins on food and clothing goods.
So if you see your favourite branded wine at half price, effectively negative margin, you’re more than likely going to stay and do your weekly shop. Thus making the supermarket it’s money back and then some.
Try walking into your local supermarket and asking for advice on food matching with wine or whether you can source a particular wine. Not going to happen.
Independent traders have the ability to work hand in hand with the customer. True they need to be more astute and imaginative in their business operations, not necessarily compete with the supermarket but offer a service that the big guns can’t. Yourself.
Independents can change their business models at the drop of a hat. By working with the demands and needs of the local clientèle and suite the area they may find themselves in.
From a personal view point I find myself in this situation everyday. I am fortunate enough to be in an affluent area where my local customers hate the big chains. The view point of my customers is support local business. At the same point when we opened up our wine store we did the research. We knew we were in a good wine drinking area. The history of our store showed that it had been a licensed premises for a hundred years. We didn’t just pick the first vacant store and think ‘right, we”ll set up here and hope for the best.’
So do supermarkets undervalue the concept of wine?
I appreciate that the supermarket model isn’t to promote themselves as experts in wine, with maybe the exception of one outlet, but they could help to improve the understanding of wine with basic, on hand educational pointers. The same time instead of undervaluing wines by massive discounting, produce a range that actually fits the price point it’s looking for.
With somewhere between 300000-400000 wine producers worldwide their is someone out there who can provide this quality of wine.
Tesco wine supremo Dan Jago recently alluded to this topic in a recent Tesco Summer Tasting
We shouldn’t ignore the value of the sub £5 wine buyer. They are as much a part of our business as the £8+ purchaser. The sub £5 buyer isn’t looking for brand. They are looking for decent, quaffable wines at the end of a long day.
The fact of the matter is this. We need supermarkets as much as we need independents. Supermarkets are a monster of our own making. They dominate because we have allowed them to and because it makes life easier for us.
People have also been voicing their concerns over the dominance of the big chains. Have they reached their peak? Another question for another day perhaps.
Independents are creeping back on to our High St. Independents show what is good in the wine world through choice with hand picked wines from boutique wineries. Take this in to account too, some major wineries are pulling out of the supermarket sector and focusing on independents. Food for thought.