COLD SELL

Like their microbrewed counterparts, premium beers sell better refrigerated, especially during the summer months, retailers told SN."Whether the consumer wants it for immediate consumption or not, he just wants it cold," said Bob Jennings, buyer/merchandising director in the beverage department at Raley's, West Sacramento, Calif.Sales of warm beer vs. cold beer vary depending on the time of day, said

Like their microbrewed counterparts, premium beers sell better refrigerated, especially during the summer months, retailers told SN.

"Whether the consumer wants it for immediate consumption or not, he just wants it cold," said Bob Jennings, buyer/merchandising director in the beverage department at Raley's, West Sacramento, Calif.

Sales of warm beer vs. cold beer vary depending on the time of day, said Roger Burks, senior vice president at The Mad Butcher, Pine Bluff, Ark.

"People getting off from work in the late afternoon at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. like it cold. We find we move more cold beer late in the afternoon when people are on their way home from work and want to enjoy a cold beer," he explained.

"The full endcap warm displays are for when people are going out to the lake or having a party; it doesn't really matter because they are going to chill it down anyway."

On an everyday basis, cold beer will outsell warm beer by three- or four-to-one, said Tom Roesner, beer/wine/liquor buyer at Seaway Food Town, Maumee, Ohio.

"In the summer months when you have displays and feature a 24-pack, people are usually picnicking. They will take it, put it in a cooler and cool it down, so that is not a problem. It's really more of an impulse item," he said.

Paul Sides, director of grocery merchandising at Cub Foods, which is owned by Super Discount Markets, Lithia Springs, Ga., said beer sells so much better cold that he is looking to expand refrigerator space.

"In at least two of our stores we are going to add cold space for beer," he said.

However, Raley's doesn't plan to add cold space anytime soon.

"We feel there is a set amount of space, and we can't add to it. Plus, since the margins are low it wouldn't justify the extra electricity for the coolers to keep more mainstream beers cold," Jennings said.

In Atlanta where hot, sticky, sultry summers are as common as peaches and pecan pie, Harris Teeter has been having success with a walk-in beer cooler in its store in the upscale Brookhaven area. Featuring glass automatic doors controlled by an electronic eye, the walk-in cooler holds six packs and cases of popular, premium and microbrew beers.

"We do a good job with cold beer; it's now probably about 70% of our beer volume," said Craig McKenzie, operations manger at Region VII.

He added that Harris Teeter has been pleased with the cooler and is putting a cold beer cage in its new Tidewater, Va., store.

Mark Polsky, senior vice president at Magruder, Rockville, Md., said he is limited on how much cold beer he can sell.

"Cold beer is a convenience, but we found that you really don't sell the larger packs refrigerated. People don't really care if they are refrigerated or not. If somebody wants something refrigerated they want to drink it now. They want to have it outside with a sandwich," he said.