Prices remain low despite weakness of pound

At the time of writing the lowest price for champagne in UK supermarkets continues to be at around the £10 a bottle level with ‘exclusive labels’ at Lidl, Aldi and ASDA to the fore. Sainsbury’s and Tesco tend to favour a six bottle discount of 25% running at the same time as other offers and the former grocer has started just such a deal today (16 August) while the latter is expected to follow suit in the run-up to the Bank Holiday weekend.

It’s no surprise to hear that the vast majority of champagne in the UK take home trade is sold at a discount. In the total champagne category in the year to date until mid-July, 60% of champagne sales by value were made on promotion. This is true even for the major international brands and the figures for the percentage each sells on and off promotion is quite revealing. Although it has the highest rrp of the six major brands listed here at around £40-£42 a bottle, a massive 67% of Bollinger’s sales in the first half of 2016 were made on promotion, compared with 64% of Taittinger’s, 58% of GH Mumm, 54% of Lanson’s, 48% of Moët’s and 34% of Veuve Clicquot’s.

If we look at the average selling price for each brand over that same period Veuve Clicquot, not Bollinger, tops the chart with the highest at £32.70 while Bollinger stands at £32.41. The average selling price for Moët is £28.46, that for Lanson is £22.61 and GH Mumm is at £22.19.

While this is going on each brand is facing the need to raise its prices, just to keep margins at the same level, because of the effective devaluation of sterling against the Euro since Brexit. The UK agents are hoping that something will happen soon on the financial markets to change all this before they commit to raising their prices, but they can’t put the decision off for long and a rise of as much as 10% could be looming.

Will this make the supermarkets in the UK change strategy and call an end to £10 champagne or discounting major brands to around £20 a bottle? Only time will tell, but current deals suggest not before the autumn at least. Currently Moët is at £20.25 in Sainsbury’s (with the six bottle discount), GH Mumm is priced at £20 in Morrisons and £22 in ASDA, while Lanson is at £22 in Tesco and may come down further soon. This looks a good time to stock up your cellar, although we suspect the grocers haven’t tired of slashing fizz prices yet.