More Towns Banning Nips & Miniatures In Liquor Stores

Quincy may be the latest Massachusetts town to ban the sale of nips, according to a March 31 Patriot Ledger report. Mayor Thomas Koch has expressed interest in asking the city’s licensing board to ban the sale of nips (alcoholic beverages in containers 100 milliliters or less) to control littering and waterway pollution, as well as address other problems, such as trash-lined streets, debris in storm drains and contaminating ocean water.

Koch also believes that nips make it more difficult for restaurants and other establishments to control underage drinking. Koch has reportedly given this decision time, as the pandemic has already hit many businesses hard.

Quincy would follow five other Massachusetts towns that have already banned nips: Chelsea, Mashpee, Falmouth, Wareham (to go into effect 5/11/22) and Newton (to go into effect 6/30/22).

Also interesting to note is that a Rhode Island legislator has proposed a law that would ban nips statewide.

The question is: Will some businesses be able to make up the revenue if nips and miniature bottles are removed?

 

For more articles on the liquor industry – check out The Advisor Magazine – Issue 15.

 

 

Wine Sales Struggle With Millennial Interest Lagging

The next time you uncork a bottle of your favorite cabernet or sauvignon blanc, ask yourself if seeing the nutritional information listed on the back changes the experience for you? Would the experience be less enjoyable because you were concentrating more on the sugar content and calories per serving than the hints of cherry in your pinot noir, or the smooth taste of your chardonnay? How important are a winery’s social and environmental convictions to you, and would knowing them affect your consumer behavior?

Current data indicates that millennials, who have a large impact on the alcohol industry, prefer having the nutritional, social, and environmental information presented to them, and they aren’t getting it from the wine industry. Wine sales and interest are both lagging the increasingly popular seltzer and ready-to-drink cocktails, and it appears that the culprits behind this shift are millennials.

A recent New York Times article reveals concern over the current state of the wine industry, and according to the article, millennials are not drinking enough wine. Baby boomers and their tendency to opt for wine has led to a healthy wine market in the past; however, as these boomers reach retirement age, they have less influence on the market because they aren’t spending as much. Millennials, on the other hand, do have much more influence on the market and have an agenda as a health-conscious, socially aware, environmentally concerned generation.

Rob McMillan, an executive vice president of Silicon Valley Bank in Santa Clara, California, and a long-time analyst of the American wine market, states that “Sales of American wine could plummet by 20% in the next decade,” and this decrease could be because the wine market has not addressed millennial concerns yet.

“It [the wine industry] has failed to recognize the changing demographics that millennials represent,” according to the article. McMillan suggests that in an effort to adapt to what millennials want, winemakers could list ingredients and nutritional information, for example, or make their social and environmental values clear.

Millennials are a generation of hard seltzer and premade cocktail fans, less often opting for the glass of wine than for their can of choice. They are not only making a stance on noting that their calories count, but they also want to know how and where these calories were made – – and wine producers haven’t offered that information yet. They also haven’t made professing their social and environmental views a priority, which apparently has not settled well with this extremely health-conscious, socially and environmentally aware generation.

Another factor contributing to the decline in wine sales amongst millennials is that wine tends to be a more expensive beverage option, whereas hard seltzers, RTD cocktails, and craft beers are less expensive, and millennials are generally more financially burdened than their parents. Millennials are entering a world where everything costs more, including their education and homes, and they will cut costs where they can.

As more “organic”, “sugar-free”, and “low and no alcohol” wines appear on the shelves, it does cause consumers to take pause and consider why these options are suddenly appearing. The future of the wine industry is yet to be determined: Will shelves will soon be lined with “healthier” wine varietals, with declarations of environmental responsibilities and social commitments plastered on their bottles? Do wine lovers want that? Does the wine-loving generation have enough of a market pull to maintain wine’s classic image?

The verdict is out, and upcoming trends and sales will tell. 

 

For more articles on the liquor industry – check out The Advisor Magazine – Issue 14.

 

 

DTC Wine Shipments Hit $4 Billion in US

Although pre-pandemic activity has begun to reemerge as consumers return to restaurants, bars, and wineries for their favorite glass of wine, DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) wine shipments in 2021 surpassed $4 billion for the first time in the U.S. What does this surge mean for wine sales in the on and off-premise markets?

The reason for this advance could be that although wine shipments jumped 28% in 2021, the year-on-year increase in volume was small, and the jump in shipments could be due to the surge in price per bottle – which increased a record 11.8%. However, consumers still spent their money on higher priced wines via DTC channels.

 

Andrew Adams, Wine Analytics and report editor at Wines Vines Analytics, commented, “Increases in price per bottle shipped helped balance out the decreases in volume that some regions experienced, creating an overall increase in value for the West Coast”. (Napa enjoyed an almost $400 million increase in value of DTC shipments in 2021!)

Another reason for the staggering increase could be that although eating and drinking establishments are reopening, many consumers enjoyed the convenience of DTC purchases that they discovered during the pandemic. Although the need for such a service has lessened with restaurants, bars, and wineries reopening their doors as some restrictions lifted, the service had such a positive impact that it seems to have continuous power.

 

According to beverage alcohol consultant Danny Brager, “as COVID-19’s impact on travel and tourism lessens, there is every reason to believe DTC shipments based on winery visitation and new club memberships will be strong in 2022.” Perhaps consumers will enjoy the best of both worlds.

Combining consumers’ enjoyment of DTC convenience with the enthusiasm of returning to restaurants for their favorite glass of wine must leave liquor store owners wondering, how can we position ourselves to remain relevant and indispensable in today’s market?

 

For more articles on the liquor industry – check out The Advisor Magazine – Issue 13.

 

 

MassPack Continues To Fight Against Bill Expansion

A recent Massachusetts Package Stores Association (“MassPack”) newsletter and message to MPSA Members from Executive Director Robert Mellion provided some great insight into the work that his association did in 2021 and continues to do in 2022 regarding the many circulating bills that could impact alcohol beverage retail as we know it. According to the newsletter, more than 190 bills were introduced during this legislative session that would impact alcoholic beverage retail – 100 of which would directly overtake local retail by replacing them with out-of-state choices for consumers.

Some of the 2021 highlights from MassPack include:

· Cumberland Farms was derailed from filing another ballot question initiative which would allow unlimited food store licenses to sell beer and wine.

· MassPack prevented industry disruptors from using Covid to further modify alcohol beverage regulations, advance online lottery, and allow for direct shipping of distilled spirits.

· MassPack testified at more than 25 hearings on over 180 bills; a third of the bills filed this session expand off-premise licenses or repeal state and municipal quotas.

· MassPack testified against bills by out-of-state chain stores, supermarkets, and big box retailers that dismantled local licensing and state quota systems.

· MassPack is the only alcohol industry participant to testify against five bills increasing excise tax on alcohol.

· Only MassPack challenged six bills that either ban or place a deposit on miniature bottles and testified against “Nip Bans” at more than 20 municipal hearings across Massachusetts.

· Adding alcohol shipments to the U.S. Postal Reform bill was a top priority.

And as the new year begins, MassPack is already testifying against remaining bills that seek to expand licenses, such as:

· An Act that would further regulate certain licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages, which is very troublesome because this bill increases the number of allowed all-alcohol retail licenses from 9 to 18.

· An Act concerning the sale of wines and malt beverages by food stores would allow marketplace control of the cheap to moderate alcohol beverages marketplace.

Although the number of bills to monitor and consider is considerable, MassPack asks that we “weigh how [these bills] impact the ABCC’s ability to regulate, consequences to the marketplace and whether these bills undercut public health and safety.”

 

For more articles on the liquor industry – check out The Advisor Magazine – Issue 12.

 

 

Pandemic Exhaustion For Liquor Store & Restaurant Owners

It is hard to wrap our heads around the fact that we will soon be heading into year three of the pandemic. It has been nothing short of a rollercoaster: from normalcy feeling at arm’s length away with cases decreasing, to cases rapidly increasing and feeling as though we are right back to square one.

Many Boston restaurants are still operating with the hope that there is an end in sight, and the turbulence is exhausting. With the new vaccine requirement instated for indoor dining in Boston, the endless struggle to ensure safety for customers and employees is now increasingly more worrisome to restaurant owners.

These restaurant owners fear it will affect their already weakened customer base and ultimately, their bottom line.

The WBUR reported, “But while many restaurants are on board with keeping staff and patrons safe, they also told WBUR the mandate puts even more stress on an already-exhausted industry.”

The instability in the industry has many owners wondering, “is it worth it to even be in the industry anymore?” The fear of the unknown has been at an all-time high for the past few years, and to some, it’s an intolerable burden.

If you are feeling hopeless and burnt out, give us a call. We have been in the industry for over two decades and are here to help you navigate your next move and to make your exit as seamless and beneficial to you as possible.

 

For more articles on the liquor industry – check out The Advisor Magazine – Issue 12.

 

 

The Liquor License COVID Response Program

Liquor License Advisor is pleased to announce the launch of our Liquor License COVID Response Program for Boston and area restaurants, bars and other on-premise licensed establishments. Over the past 6 months, we have been approached by many owners who were looking for specific advice about their current situation and options.

The was a common theme and questions that kept coming up and the more owners we talked to, the more we knew we had to do something more to support the Boston restaurants who have supported us all of these years.

The program allows a quick assessment by our team of liquor license professionals to help you evaluate what your potential options are and what’s next. For full details on the program, see the info below or reach out to our office at (781)319-9800 any time to schedule a private conversation about your unique situation.

You’ve worked hard and deserve the best possible outcome for you and your business – we’re here for you. Give us a call at (781)319-9800.

 

 

Predictions For 2021 Holiday Liquor Sales In Massachusetts

Last holiday season was unprecedented, as COVID turned many large gatherings into small or virtual ones, and the most wonderful time of the year looked much different for most. People thought it was safe to assume that by the 2021 holiday season life would have returned to normal, and that holiday gatherings and spending would gain momentum.

Enter Delta variant and renewed restrictions in certain areas, and it looks like consumer trends may continue to shift. BevAlc recently released their top predictions for 2021 holiday sales, which highlights the uncertainty surrounding consumer behaviors during the months leading up to the start of 2022. Let’s take a closer look.

Before delving into what people will be consuming this holiday season, it is probably more notable to consider how they will be consuming. Celebrations will be mixed this year, as BevAlc reports that less than half of people surveyed will celebrate like they did in 2019, while a majority’s holidays will resemble those of 2020. Many are hesitant to make big plans in the ever-changing climate that has become pandemic life, and there will likely be a mix of pre-pandemic and pandemic celebrations.

Holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without gifts, and BevAlc believes that many gifts will continue to be purchased online this season. Drizly has reported significant growth in the gift giving sector, with share expanding from just 9% in 2019 to 20% by the end of 2020.

Retailers must pay attention to this significant shift, as it presents a valuable opportunity for them. Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights, comments that, “This is an awesome opportunity to drive valuable sales online”, as retailers can both acquire new customers online who perhaps wouldn’t normally frequent their store, as well as be introduced to new local shoppers.

People will be celebrating in different ways and making a lot of online purchases, but what will the drinks of choice be at these celebrations and for online purchases?

According to BevAlc’s report, tequila and whiskey will enjoy huge popularity, tequila making up 25% of liquor sales on Drizly.

Lander Otegui is the senior vice president of marketing at Proximo Spirits and remarked that “our customers like to enjoy tequila during celebratory moments”, and that “this is especially true during the holidays, a time when many are willing to spend more on premium offerings”.

Also making an appearance at holiday celebrations this year will be the newer-to-the-scene Ready to Drink cocktails. Drizly has reported an 85% increase in RTD sales, as hard seltzer sales decline and “RTDs could potentially be seen as a replacement for consumers for some secondary cocktail ingredients”, according to Paquette. If some are limiting their social interactions, hitting the liquor store or clicking around Drizly for the whole package might be all the rage this holiday season, rather than making multiple trips to multiple stores for cocktail ingredients.

And finally, champagne. “…in the U.S., Champagne is the wine for celebration”, according to Xavier Barlier, who is the senior vice president of marketing & communications at Maisons Marques & Domaines USA. Many felt cheated out of their 2020 holiday season, which is all the more reason to celebrate in 2021, whether at a small, socially distant gathering, a large reunion, or while catching up on Zoom. Champagne is also a great holiday and host gift, so people will be enjoying and gifting the bubbly.

“The more frustrated we get with COVID and Delta, “ comments Barlier, “the more we want to compensate. I think this year we’re going to splurge”.

For more articles on liquor licenses and liquor stores, check out our monthly magazine, The Advisor Magazine – Issue #9.

 

 

 

3 Ways a Liquor License Broker Makes an Attorney’s Job Easier

 

Over our many years of business, we’ve worked with numerous attorneys to make their journey through the liquor licensing process easier.

Attorneys who are new to what we do often ask why it’s necessary to have a liquor license broker; what they often find, however, is that our services go far beyond just finding a buyer or seller. How do we make the process smoother for all of the lawyers we work with? Here are the three main ways.

 

 

1. We troubleshoot for you.

 

We see possibilities in licensing that other people frequently miss. We solve the problems attorneys don’t always have the time or expertise to resolve, acting as partners to step in and lead extra support to deliver a winning result for all parties involved.

For example, if we had a business trying to buy a license from one of its other franchisees and that franchisee is avoiding the sale, we have the bandwidth to speak with that franchisee and work through any questions or problems. Sometimes, that includes venturing out to evaluate what the cost would be for a business to buy a license over the next six months in a certain community and getting into the nitty-gritty details of how to make that transaction.

For an attorney, having a team with the expertise who has dealt with these problems is a huge asset, and it saves quite a few headaches for those who aren’t as well-acquainted with this business as we are.

 

 

2. We offer our knowledge base.

 

Attorneys are the legal experts. But who wants to spend two weeks poring over books of licensing case law to figure out what’s going on? Given that a lot of lawyers who contact us aren’t licensing-specific attorneys, we step up to act as a resource for them to make decisions and give their clients firm answers.

About 90% of the work we do involves working alongside attorneys to solve their clients’ problems and fulfill their needs. The services we provide most often include looking to buy a license, needing to sell a license, requesting an evaluation done for lending, and uncovering a license for scratch.

At the end of the day, we’re going to be as creative as possible in our deal-making to ensure that clients—and by extension, their  attorneys—walk away with a deal they’re happy with.

 

 

3. We’re reliable no matter what the process throws your way.

 

There’s enough unpredictability with the transaction of trying to buy, sell, or secure a liquor license. Why go it alone?

Our mission is to make that process much easier and more streamlined. When we do business with attorneys, we help manage the transaction from start to finish and point out  any potential red flags or legal complications that lawyers should be aware of. If there’s a snag in a deal, we’re the ones who will step in to work it out in order to make sure attorneys aren’t adding something to their licenses.

When it comes down to it, we have one specialty: Liquor licenses. We learn every day, which means we’re constantly developing better systems and processes for our clients, as well as their attorneys.

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