August 20, 2017


20° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast


Advertise With Us

Alcohol sales go through roof

Bank predicts best year ever for liquor biz in Manitoba

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/12/2012 (1716 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If a new report on alcohol sales is to be believed, a lot of you are probably in need of a new bottle opener or corkscrew.

According to the Bank of Montreal, 2012 is shaping up as the best year ever in terms of liquor sales both in Manitoba and across Canada.

Tom Bima, general manager of the Winehouse, shows one of the more expensive bottles he expects to sell over the holidays.


Tom Bima, general manager of the Winehouse, shows one of the more expensive bottles he expects to sell over the holidays.

It's not that people are drinking more -- they're spending more on the bottles they're buying. Aaron Goertzen, an economist with the Toronto-based bank, said the ongoing improvement in the Canadian economy and rising consumer incomes are altering spending habits in liquor and beer stores.

"People are feeling more confident. All of that makes them more likely to buy a nicer bottle of wine or scotch," he said.

"They're shifting to more expensive products, which has big benefits to the retailers and producers -- revenue growth, plain and simple."

BMO's findings are no surprise to Tom Bima, general manager of the Winehouse, one of the city's private wine stores.

His customers spend an average of $17 per bottle of wine but over the past 12 months, he's noticed they're often super-sizing their purchases with 1.5- and three-litre bottles.

"There's a little more money out there now. Last year, people were spending $50 on three bottles of wine, now they're spending the same amount of money on two bottles," Bima said.

Sales of wine, beer and spirits typically surge in December -- more than 40 per cent above the monthly average -- making it the highest volume sales month, BMO said. By comparison, the retail sector is up 15 to 20 per cent from holiday shopping.

Last December, the average Canadian adult spent slightly more than $85 on alcohol, with approximately one-third of that going to Canadian-produced wines.

That's consistent with the trend over the last decade or so that has seen increased wine consumption. That poses a challenge to breweries and distillers, Bima said.

"We think of ourselves as a beer-drinking country but we're shifting more towards wine," Bima said.

The MLCC is seeing much the same picture as BMO. Spokeswoman Susan Harrison said year-over-year sales to the end of November are up both in volume and dollar value.

She said for the past few years, sales of premium products have increased during the Christmas season.

"We attribute that to people liking to treat themselves and their families during the holidays," she said.

This is especially true with beer, she said, as MLCC figures show people moving increasingly to more craft and premium lagers and ales.

The opening of the first Liquor Mart Express on Pembina Highway earlier this week doesn't faze Bima. In fact, he said he doesn't see the liquor store in a grocery store as a competitor but more as a means to grow the liquor pie.

"I'm all for introducing more Winnipeggers to the responsible consumption of fun beverages. If Safeway's (liquor store) introduces somebody new to wine, eventually they'll come over to us," he said.

"I need more people educated and aware that wine is fun and it goes well with dinner. When used in moderation and responsibly, it can be a great addition to your day."


Advertise With Us


Updated on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 8:20 AM CST: replaces photo

11:48 AM: adds photo

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Photo Store

Scroll down to load more