Happy Days Are Here Again: Wine Sales Are Up

shoppingWe’ve done it — we’ve beaten back the Beast of Fear and Uncertainty and used our checking accounts and credit cards to show the world that “We’re Back!”

In the U.S., we just recorded the largest Holiday sales figures ever. Retail sales were up in almost every category, from clothing to luxury goods. We opened our wallets, and we had a good time doing it!

I saw it in my own business: my wine and specialty beer shop rang up the best Thanksgiving and Christmas sales ever. Everyone bought a little more of everything, and high-end wine sales in particular rebounded nicely.

Of course, there were lots of bargains out there, and apparently they became impossible to resist. Many high-end wines were deeply discounted — like $20, $25 or even $30 off per bottle — and buyers finally jumped on them. They also gobbled up lower-priced “party” wines, and everything in between.

Experts like the New York Times attribute the spending increase to several factors. One is the rising stock market, which has given some relief to all of us who saw our life’s savings shrivel up and (almost) die two years ago.

Pent-up demand is also a factor: we’ve been keeping our hands in our pockets since 2008, but finally felt enough confidence in the future to buy some of the things we’ve been waiting for.

My theory is that we all learned to live differently. In the last two years we were forced by circumstances to live with less, and we were scared enough to start saving money instead of continually spending it like drunken sailors. Many of us have stopped relying on credit cards, which allowed us to spend beyond our means. This year we bought more gifts with real, cash money from our savings and checking accounts. I know my shop saw many more cash purchases than in previous years.

And this is really good news for the future. We may be spending more in 2011, but we’ll be spending more wisely. Our purchases will help fuel the economic recovery, but it will be a more sustainable recovery because it will be based on smart buying.

And I’m all for smart buying — as long as your shopping list includes some good wine. Cheers!

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