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Fizzling out: Champagne sales down as coronavirus pandemic rumbles on

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By Euronews
Fizzling out: Champagne sales down as coronavirus pandemic rumbles on
Copyright  AFP

Seven months have passed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and celebrations are still few and far between. 

Large gatherings are not encouraged and economic woes mean people are tightening their belts, which is bad news for champagne makers, whose sales have taken a major hit.

Between January and July, supermarket sales of the bubbly stuff in France fell by around 25 per cent compared to a year ago.

It follows the tight restrictions on events such as trade fairs, weddings, and family celebrations - where fizz usually flows freely.

Christmas and New Year celebrations look set to be a rather damp squib for winemakers.

"We're going to have a decrease in our sales, it's inevitable," says winemaker Antoine Chiquet. "There are some sales that we have lost, that we won't do again at the end of the year. Everything will depend on the end of 2020, on whether people will start selling again. We don't doubt it as French champagne is the essential drink for the end of year celebrations."

The fall in sales means an increase of stock with tens of millions of bottles remaining in cellars. This, in turn, puts pressure on prices.

Now, winemakers have agreed to harvest fewer grapes to reduce the production of the luxury tipple.

Florent Roques-Boizel is CEO of Champagne Boizel winery: "It was a difficult decision, but one that was taken together for the general interest and the future of Champagne, to reduce the yield to 8,000 kg per hectare. Nature, this year, didn't give us much more than this yield, so in the end we left a few grapes, but not a lot."

The popular celebratory drink is often used as a barometer of global crises.

Previously, it was the financial crisis of 2008 and the Gulf War which caused consumption to drop in sales.