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Britons pop the fizz to see off COVID blues

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Champagne grape harvest begins

LONDON (Reuters) - More Britons than ever are splashing out on champagne to help them through the coronavirus crisis.

Three of Britain's top five supermarket groups - No. 2 Sainsbury's, No. 4 Morrisons and No. 5 Aldi - have all this week highlighted buoyant sales of the sparkling wine in the run-up to Christmas and the new year holiday.

With COVID-19 restrictions closing the hospitality sector, people tended to celebrate in their homes.

Sainsbury's said on Thursday sales of premium champagne soared 52% in its third quarter to Jan. 2.

"Customers celebrated Christmas in smaller gatherings and they wanted to treat themselves," CEO Simon Roberts told reporters.

On Tuesday, Morrisons said champagne sales were up 64% compared with last year, while on Monday Aldi said it had sold 4.5 million bottles of champagne, sparkling wine and prosecco in December alone.

Market researcher Nielsen said on Wednesday champagne sales in the UK rose 18% year-on-year in the four weeks to Dec. 26, while crémant sparkling wine sales were up 51%.

Rival Kantar said on Monday that with options to drink in pubs, bars and restaurants limited, Britons spent 310 million pounds ($421 million) more on alcohol in supermarkets in the 12 weeks to Dec. 27 compared with the same period last year.

($1 = 0.7368 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey Editing by Mark Potter)