Alberta Liquor Market Trends

On the Road to Recovery

Alberta’s liquor sales are leveling out and certain segments are increasing according to the AGLC. Coolers and ciders increased 5.6% from April to September 2017 compared to the same period last year and the wine category continued to gain market share increasing 1.6%. The beer category declined 1.2% and spirits decreased 1.5%.

Economic Recovery

Reflecting the strength of the first half of 2017, real GDP in Alberta is now expected to grow by 3.1% in 2017 according to the Alberta Treasury Board and Finance.

SKU Growth

Alberta’s 1,587 liquor stores now sell 24,369 products. Jody Korchinski, VP of Liquor Services, AGLC, presented at the Alberta Liquor Industry Conference, and reported, “In coolers and ciders we have seen a SKU growth of 68% in the past five years and about a 10 % SKU increase since last year. For beer, we’ve had a 90% growth in the number of SKUs over 5 years and a 19% increase since last year. For spirits, the SKUs have increased 44% since 2013-13 and almost 12% since to last year.

Wine is the only category going against this trend. Compared to last year there was a small drop in SKU numbers of about 1.5%.  However, in the past five years, wine SKUs have increased by 10%.”

Demand for Lower Alcohol Products Increasing

Albertans are buying more beer and wine with a lower percentage of alcohol. Korchinski says, “Over the past 5 years it appears as though sales for beer in the 5-5.9% alcohol range have decreased whereas sales in the lower % category of 4-4.9% have increased.” In the wine category, sales volumes in the 12.0-12.9% range have increased, whereas the 13-13.9% range has trended downward over the same time.

Alberta Made Products Trending Up

There is growing strength of Alberta’s ‘Buy Local’ movement and Alberta’s manufacturers are stepping up production. Korchinski boasts, “In 2016-17 Alberta products accounted for 36% of Canadian product sold. That equals 977,207 hL sold.” Look at the number of product SKUs sold for 2016-17:
Beer: 2273 SKUs – 54%
Spirits: 418 SKUs – 9%
Wine: 121 SKUs – 1%
Cooler & Cider: 45 SKUs – 5.8%

2017 and 2018 look promising for both Alberta`s liquor manufacturers and retailers!