1 year later, how wine sales in Tennessee grocery stores have changed landscape

Local News

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Nearly one year after the state of Tennessee began allowing grocery stores to sell wine, liquor stores say they’ve seen a drop in wine sales while grocery chains say it’s helped customers. Meanwhile, a major convenience store chain has decided not to sell wine at all.

Stores applied to sell wine through the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission before sales began on July 1, 2016. Sales at stores like Kroger have gone up thanks to the addition of wine.

“The convenience factor of just being able to stop in and just pick up a bottle of wine with dinner was just a fantastic win for our customers,” said Farragut Kroger manager Lyn Cox.

Cox says what makes his store unique is the ability for customers to try wine in the store. He says at first, there were a lot of unknowns. but after a year of wine business, that has turned around.

“Well you won’t carry certain brands, maybe not going to have the high end things that other places would have. But really, that hasn’t been a reality at all,” Cox said.

Convenience is what makes wine in grocery stores so beneficial for stores like Kroger. However, some local liquor store owners say they haven’t seen as many customers coming in just to buy wine

“We are always going to ask, ‘What do you drink?’ Then we try to make comparable suggestions so that they learn we understand what they’re interested in, find something that’s comparable to that and realize I really need to come back and talk to these people,” said Bob’s Liquor Store’s wine buyer.

They say wine sales are down 30 percent. Case buyers haven’t changed, but casual wine drinkers are fewer than they were a year ago.

Pilot Flying J, meanwhile, says after looking at their options, they don’t plan to sell wine anytime soon.

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