Covid-19: champagne sales down but rebound expected

Since the beginning of the coronavirus confinement, champagne sales have declined. However, a rebound and return to normal is expected by the end of the year.

The Drinks Business reported that champagne sales have declined since the start of the containment. Champagne Committee co-chair Jean-Marie Barillère says there has been a “big drop” in sales of good French sparkling wine. But he believes this current situation will not last long.

This situation is not to be doubted. In fact, the coronavirus has affected some of the largest champagne markets: Italy, Spain as well as France. Bars and restaurants have had to close and this factor is also a determining factor in sales.

Jean-Marie Barrillère noted that in the French market, which represents almost 50% of champagne sales by volume, “no activity in restaurants, bars and hotels” closed during the coronavirus confinement.

We have a 70% decrease in sales in supermarkets and hypermarkets in the last two weeks in France, so it has been a big decrease.”

He added that the pandemic will have a negative effect on champagne, more than any other drink.

We are the drink that will be most affected by the crisis, because we are the drink of celebration. And a luxury drink at the same time,” he said.

He added that “when you are in a crisis, and we are in a crisis, this is a war against a virus, you are not going to drink champagne… so we know this will be serious for champagne although the seriousness will depend on the duration of the crisis“. Barrillère hopes to have a normal business by the end of the year.


Comparing with the crisis of 2008…

“…I think the fall will be bigger. But I hope it’s shorter and I hope there’s a quicker return to where we were. But I don’t know when [this return will begin], so it’s scary, not just for champagne, but for all sectors“.

The sudden drop in demand for champagne due to the Covid-19 is particularly marked because it comes at the bottom of a record year for the fizzy French.

In 2019, champagne achieved its highest turnover, breaking the sales record of 5 billion euros for the first time in its history. And this year, the start was also very strong in terms of sales.

Barrillère added that “the beginning of 2020 was good in terms of consumption and morale, and now it is another world”.

Other consequences of the Covid-19, is towards the end of the summer the probable lack of workers to harvest the crop which is done by hand. Mainly made by temporary workers from Eastern Europe. If the travel ban continues, the region will find it difficult to harvest.

If “sanitary measures” are maintained in France at the end of August and the beginning of September, Barillère admitted that “we don’t know how to handle the harvest in Champagne… but it’s the same for all agriculture“.

Barrillère and the sector are keeping “their fingers crossed” and “if [the covid-19] disappears in the summer, it will be fantastic news for everyone.


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