The booze cruise is back in fashion as shoppers stock up on cheap wine from across the Channel before the Brexit deadline on 29 March.
Sales at Majestic Wine’s Calais stores soared 49% last month and pre-orders are up 78% in March as shoppers take advantage of duty free alcohol while they can.
The huge increase in Calais sales comes amid evidence that one in 10 Britons have begun stockpiling groceries while a further 26% are considering doing so.
Food cupboard essentials such as tinned foods, household goods such as toilet paper, medicines and toiletries are top of the list for those filling their cupboards according to a survey by retail analysis firm Kantar Worldpanel. But nearly 17% said they were considering stockpiling alcohol.
The booze cruise phenomena kicked off in the 1990s, but Majestic Wine, which has long offered to cover the cost of a ferry crossing for customers, said that popularity had soared again in the light of growing uncertainty over the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
“This is a new generation of cruiser millennials,” said Joshua Lincoln, managing director of Majestic Wine. “It’s couples getting ready for their summer weddings now. It’s day trippers from the Scottish Highlands taking on a mammoth trek. It’s not necessarily people buying as much as they can, as cheaply as they can.”
He said that exchange rates were not as favourable as 20 years ago, but shoppers could still make an average saving of £3 a bottle.
Shoppers, food suppliers and retailers are bracing for a potential £9bn food price shock if there is a no-deal Brexit as analysts predict the cost of staples such as beef, cheddar cheese and tomatoes could soar.
With less than a month until the Brexit deadline, the government is this week expected to announce plans to mitigate the impact of an unplanned exit with new import taxes, or tariffs, on 5,200 products, including food and clothing.
The relationship with the EU is key to the price of food because nearly a third of the food eaten in the UK comes from the bloc. In spring the situation is more acute because, with UK produce out of season, 90% of lettuces, 80% of tomatoes and 70% of soft fruit is sourced from, or via, the EU.