Target expanding craft beer and wine in SoCal as part of nationwide effort to increase alcohol sales – Orange County Register

With craft beer sales one of the few bright spots at Target, the retailer plans to expand its alcohol selections at 300 stores nationwide, including seven in Southern California.

Chief Merchandising Officer Mark Tritton said the move to beef up its beer, wine and spirits offerings was prompted after the retailer reported “mid-single digit” sales increases in its adult beverage business for the first quarter.

Target said the expansion includes adding alcohol in “300 stores through increased footprints, remodels and new liquor licenses.”

“We continue to focus on developing localized assortments and more compelling displays, and our guests are really responding,” Tritton said during a recent conference call with investors.

The seven stores in Southern California adding alcohol include six small-format stores opening this year in Irvine, Orange, Los Angeles (Eagle Rock and USC Village), Mission Hills and Burbank; along with a traditional store slated to open in Oceanside.

The smaller Targets are part of a $7 billion plan to boost sluggish sales. They are being built in densely populated suburban markets or college campuses. The stores offer groceries including produce and grab-and-go foods such as sandwiches, salads and beverages.  Some have pharmacies but don’t offer lawn and garden supplies.

The Irvine store opens in late July at 4255 Campus Drive in former a 24 Hour Fitness. It will offer beer, wine and spirits, Target spokeswoman Megan Boyd said.

Beyond adding liquor to new or existing stores, Boyd said Target also plans to shore up current wine and beer shelves with a wider selection of options.  Specifically, stores are looking to curate from more local craft breweries. The latter is one of the biggest trends in the beverage industry.

In 2015, California craft breweries contributed $7.28 billion to the state’s economy, up 12 percent from $6.5 million in 2014, according to the latest data by the California Craft Brewers Association.

Target is playing catch up when it comes to improving its beer lineup. Supermarket rivals including Whole Foods Market, Albertsons, Grocery Outlet, Stater Bros. and Ralphs have been dedicating extra space to craft beer over the past few years.

Last year, Whole Foods Market in Tustin unveiled a store makeover that included an entire aisle dedicated to craft beer. The store doubled its selection to 800 types of beers.

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