But in the year of the pandemic, a new category is growing in popularity that may provide some holiday cheer for adults: booze-filled calendars, with a different little bottle to open for every night during Advent, the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas.
Aldi, which has sold wine calendars since 2018, is selling both beer and hard seltzer calendars this year, for $49.99 and $34.99, respectively. It also plans to launch a sparkling wine calendar next month.
Advent calendars can often be an impulse purchase for customers who come in to shop for essential items, said Phil Lempert, a consumer and retail trends expert and founder of SupermarketGuru.com.
The latest wave of alcoholic ones isn’t just about the sales.
“With wine Advent calendars, their marketing value…is significantly higher than their sales value in helping drive traffic,” said Christopher Durham, a brand consultant with expertise in the grocery industry. “You limit how many are available, thousands of people talk about them and you create buzz.”
Ticketing systems and bidding wars
Grocery stores are doing exactly that. Kroger said it is only selling 16,000 of its new calendars and won’t restock it once it sells out.
Galanti said he isn’t surprised that Costco shoppers scooped up the calendars as soon as they were rolled out. “In general, people have been staying home and so we’ve seen strength in categories like food and drinks, kitchen and furniture categories,” he said.
The calendars are among Aldi’s most popular items, said Joan Kavanaugh, vice president of national buying with Aldi U.S., which has more than 2,000 stores across 36 states and a cult-like following of fans who call themselves “Aldi nerds.” The retailer sold 500% more wine Advent calendars in 2019 than it did in 2018.
Anticipating a rush for the 2020 offerings, Kavanaugh said Aldi stores implemented a ticketing system along with safety protocols “including social distancing, one-way aisles and mask requirements.”
The company says the calendars so far have been selling quickly.