Survey: Shoppers prefer buying adult beverages in-store, with Walmart top choice

Marianne Wilson
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When it comes to buying wine, beer and spirits, stores win out — even during a pandemic. 

Almost 90% of all beer, wine and spirits purchases in the last year were made in-store, and that number is expected to rise post-pandemic, according to a survey by ChaseDesign. Customers still prefer shopping in-store vs. online because they enjoy being in control of their experience and want the ability to browse, with nearly 40% saying they only purchase alcohol in-store. 

Walmart came out on top as the retailer providing the best overall experience for purchasing beer, wine and spirits, with Target, Costco and Total Wine among the top five. Independent liquor stores ranked second, behind Walmart. The strong showing by independents reflects the power of localization and trust in store associates – often the most undervalued asset at retail, the report said.

The ChaseDesign Beer, Wine and Spirits Shopping Trends survey also found while buying alcohol online for pickup at store and home delivery levels increased dramatically during the pandemic, it is in now experiencing a decline. During the pandemic 40% reported buying alcohol online, but is down to 35% now, and trending toward the 30% pre-pandemic levels.

Other findings from the report are below:
• When shoppers buy alcohol online, the top fulfillment method is through home delivery, different than most other consumer product purchases.   And when shoppers choose to pick up online orders at store, only 13% report also shopping for other things when they go to the store to pick up. This is substantially below the 50% of shoppers who report going into stores for additional purchases when buying mainstream groceries.

• While buying alcohol online provides the convenience shoppers like, they report missing the in-store experience, with 53% saying they enjoy seeing beverage choices in person, 42% reporting they like to pick up products to learn more about them, 41% saying its easier to discover new brands in-store, 37% indicating they like the overall atmosphere in a store. And 35% commented that store employees who know about options and choices, are missed while shopping online.

The report noted that the future of shopping is neither digital nor physical stores, but rather the convergence of digital and physical in a retail shopping environment that truly makes the customer journey more enjoyable and productive. Twenty-five of respondents use a retailer’s app most of the time or always when shopping and another 23% use it at least sometimes.