LCBO predicts value wines, gift packs will top shopping lists this holiday
season

TORONTO, Dec. 2 /CNW/ - The LCBO has launched its 2009 holiday promotion, Catch the Joy, predicting that wines offering good value for money and gift packs will be particularly popular this year.

"People will be looking to stretch their dollars more than ever," says Bob Downey, Senior Vice President, LCBO Sales & Marketing. "This year, wines priced $10 a bottle and under have enjoyed more sales growth than those at higher price points and we expect this trend to continue. We also believe beverage alcohol gift packs will have more appeal than ever as consumers look for value when buying gifts."

Fashionable red wines this holiday season will be Ontario pinot noirs and Argentinean malbecs while popular whites will include Ontario rieslings and chardonnays, as well as sauvignon blancs from South Africa, New Zealand and Chile. Chilean and Argentinean chardonnays and chenin blancs and pinot grigios from Argentina are also expected to be top choices.

During the Catch the Joy promotion, the LCBO is offering its largest-ever selection of beverage alcohol gift packs - 150 in total, ranging in price from $3.45 to $249.90 to suit different budgets. The selection includes new items such as the Fuzion Duo of Shiraz/Malbec and Sparking Wine, Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Brut Rosé VQA sparkling wine in Thermal Tube, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Sipping Whisky with a Belt Buckle, and Bah Humbug beer. There are also 28 unique beer gift packs, including the new OCB Discovery Pack which features six different beers from six different Ontario craft brewers. It is sold exclusively in LCBO stores.

Ontario craft beers are expected to be in demand over the holiday period as year-over-year sales have increased by 50 per cent since April.

The LCBO also predicts many consumers will "buy local" this holiday season, carrying on a trend seen throughout 2009.

"You don't have to go too far to find some of the world's best wines are made right here in Ontario," notes Downey. "From April 1 to the end of November, LCBO sales of Ontario VQA wines were up more than 16 per cent over the same period in 2008, as more and more consumers realize they deliver on both value and quality and match well with food."

Downey also predicts that Canadian whiskies, like the award-winning Forty Creek from Grimsby, Ontario, will also be all the rage. Other seasonal spirits favourites will likely include vodka, the base for many holiday cocktails, classic liqueurs and rum, particularly spiced rum. Last year, LCBO spirits sales reached almost $340 million in November and December.

The holiday period is also a popular time for sparkling wines and Champagnes. This year, it's expected that sparkling wines from Spain, Australia, U.S. and Ontario, priced under $25 per bottle, will be particularly sought after. As well, some European sparkling wine and French Champagne producers have reduced their prices to offer greater value. Thirty per cent of the LCBO's annual sales of sparkling wine and Champagne take place in November and December.

VINTAGES, the LCBO's fine wine and premium spirits business unit, is also a great source for gifts with its wide array of premium wines and unique spirits, including aged whiskies and fine cognacs.

LCBO gift cards are also expected to be well-liked items. This year, customers can also purchase holiday gift certificates in any denomination for LCBO in-store special events such as wine appreciation courses, tutored tastings and cooking classes presented at its 10 stores with event kitchens.

Last December, LCBO sales totaled almost $550 million, or almost 14 per cent of total annual sales. The average per person transaction at LCBO stores in December was $47, compared to $37 during the rest of the year. In 2008, the biggest LCBO selling day was December 23 with sales of over $42 million.

During Catch the Joy, the LCBO provides a complete selection of holiday gifts, as well as stress-free responsible entertaining tips and recipes in its holiday gift guide which can be found online at www.lcbo.com. Entertaining suggestions can also be found in the Holiday 2009 FOOD & DRINK.

For more information about LCBO's Catch the Joy promotion, entertaining ideas and responsible hosting tips, call the toll-free LCBO Infoline at 1-800-ONT-LCBO (668-5226). In Toronto, call (416) 365-5900 or visit your nearest LCBO store. The TTY number for the deaf and hard of hearing is 416 864-6898 or 1-800-361-3291. Consumers can also access the LCBO website at www.lcbo.com and VINTAGES information at www.vintages.com.

Consumers are reminded to bring a reusable bag when shopping at the LCBO and, after the holiday entertaining is over, to take empty beverage alcohol containers (large and small glass bottles, PET plastic, Tetra Paks, bag-in-box and cans) to The Beer Store for a full deposit refund.

SOURCE LCBO

For further information: For further information: MEDIA CONTACT: Trina Hendry, Media Relations Consultant, Marketing and Customer Insights, Tel. (416) 864-6803, Cell: (416) 358-0357, E-mail: trina.hendry@lcbo.com


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