April 9, 2020 / 6:32 AM / 2 months ago

People move online for wine as coronavirus shuts pubs - Naked Wines

FILE PHOTO: Bottles of red wine are seen in the cellar of Chateau Le Puy in Saint Cibard, France, October 3, 2019. The U.S. decision to impose tariffs on French wines will penalize American consumers, the French wine exporters' federation said on Thursday. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

(Reuters) - Britons and Americans stuck in coronavirus lockdowns may not be drinking in bars and pubs but they are ordering more wine for delivery, online seller Naked Wines (WINEW.L) said on Thursday, predicting 2020 sales would now top existing forecasts.

Sales by the company, best known in the United Kingdom as the online business developed by Majestic Wine before the chain was sold last year, will now top 200 million for the whole of 2020, it said.

“In the short term, the introduction of social distancing has accelerated the shift in consumer buying behaviour towards online,” Chief Executive Officer Nick Devlin said.

“In the US, especially, I believe the current period could serve as an inflection point for the growth rate of the online category, and as the largest direct to consumer player in the US market we are well positioned as customers move online.”

The London-listed company said grape harvests and wine production have been able to continue largely unaffected by the pandemic as winemakers are considered agricultural.

It temporarily stopped taking new orders in the middle of last month after an unprecedented surge in business as Britons stockpiled food and drink.

The company said it was now operating with extended delivery times in all its markets but had adequate stock.

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Patrick Graham

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