Alcohol sales can be a challenging, yet important, category for convenience stores. Between deciding what to keep in stock and ensuring all your employees are compliant with alcohol sales, there’s a lot to look out for. By staying on top of the alcohol sales trends, maintaining a good variety of product, and training your staff on alcohol sales, you can position your store to compete in this growing retail category.
5 Alcohol Sales Trends to Watch For
Product trends are always changing, and it’s never easy to stay on top of them. But here are five current alcohol sales trends that category managers should be aware of:
1. The “Sober Curious” movement is gaining steam. Nielson reports sales of non-alcoholic beverages increased by 33% in 2021, and the trend is expected to continue. Millennials and Gen Zers are drinking less alcohol than other generations did at their age, preferring mocktails or other drink options when out with friends.
2. Customers are shifting to cleaner living. Post-pandemic consumers are becoming more health-conscious and are purchasing products with more natural ingredients. This clean-living trend also extends to eco-friendly and sustainable packaging.
3. Hard seltzers are still going strong. This trend began a few years ago and doesn’t appear to be dying off anytime soon. Coca-Cola launched Topo Chico hard seltzer in 2020.
4. Alcoholic versions of popular drinks are becoming more prevalent. PepsiCo recently released an alcoholic version of Mountain Dew. Hard kombucha is also becoming popular. Made just like regular kombucha, hard kombucha is fermented longer, meaning a higher alcohol content. This option is becoming more and more popular with consumers who are still interested in kombucha for all its natural gut-friendly properties.
5. Ready-to-drink options are expected to continue gaining momentum. Popularized during the pandemic, when many restaurants had to pivot to delivery or pickup options, ready-to-drink cocktails and single-serve packaging of wines emerged as an easy, popular option. Now many brands are offering cocktails and wine in cans and other easy to carry options.
Train Employees on Alcohol Sales
Ensure your employees are properly prepared to recognize and handle alcohol sales in your convenience store. Frequent refresher training related to responsible alcohol sales – especially during holiday seasons and times when alcohol sales increase – will help your employees maintain compliance and boost their confidence with alcohol sales.
Ringing up Alcohol Sales: Make sure your training covers the steps employees should be taking when ringing up alcohol sales. Things to in mind:
- Attempt to judge if the customer has already been drinking.
- Always be friendly and polite, but firm when necessary.
- Don’t be afraid to refuse a sale.
Carding Customers: Ensure employees are aware of the store’s policy for carding customers – should they card everyone, or just customers appearing under a certain age? Other tips for carding customers:
- Request the ID as soon as the customer reaches the count.
- Employees should place hands on the item and pull it towards them while waiting for the ID.
- Be polite and patient.
Recognizing Fake IDs: An important part of alcohol sales is being able to spot a fake ID. Here are a few things to watch for:
- The ID is the proper size and thickness, with a smooth, clean laminate.
- The font is consistent everywhere on the ID.
- All holograms and other security features are visible.
- The back of the ID looks just as good as the front, and not like a photocopy.
Train Your Staff on Responsible Alcohol Sales
The Responsible Alcohol Sales for Off-Premise Sellers training from Ready Training Online covers properly checking ID, spotting fake IDs, and refusing alcohol sales while delivering exceptional service. State-specific training for certain states is also available, including California Responsible Beverage Service and the Florida Security, Tobacco Sales, & Alcohol Responsible Vendor program.