Military commissary officials have stepped up their efforts to beef up savings, convenience and overall shopping experiences for customers. When are beer and wine coming to your commissary? No answer yet, according to DoD officials. Right now there is a limited test selling beer and wine in 12 military commissaries. Fort Bragg is not one of them. Commissary and exchange officials are “gathering and analyzing all factors related to beer and wine sales,” said DoD spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell.
The 12 test stores have limited selections and restricted floor space for beer and wine, typically a four-foot shelf space each for beer and for wine. The selections have been purposely kept small at the 12 stores, and are being culled and changed, said one industry source. Beer and wine sales are expected to be rolled out slowly to other stores, he said, as officials evaluate the initial sales and remain sensitive to the needs of customers and the military services’ desires to deglamorize alcohol.
One industry source said the Fort Myer, Virginia, commissary — the store closest to the Pentagon — has the best sales of all 12 stores. Although its selection is the smallest, its placement near the meat section is key, a local official said. “It’s all about where you put it, and how you stage it.”
Even with just four-feet of shelf space devoted to each of their beer and wine offerings, that store sold $165,596 worth of libations. Its wine sales brought it over the top: 66% of the sales were wine, which far surpassed the other 11 stores.
Following a 90-day pilot program in the last half of 2018, DoD decided to continue sales of beer and wine at the 12 test stores while it evaluated whether to expand sales to the rest of the system’s 226 commissaries in the U.S. and abroad. As of December 8, 2018, some $394,315 worth of beer and wine were sold in the 12 commissaries — $190,574 in beer, and $203,741 in wine, according to Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
The spirits industry had been hoping that a test of spirits sales at the commissaries might follow. But the DoD decided it will not move ahead with a pilot test for spirits. “The department has evaluated the sale of alcoholic beverages in commissaries,” Gleason said, “and stands by its original decision to limit sales to a small selection of beers and wines.”
“Spirits, wine and beer all compete for the same drinking occasions,” said David Ozgo, senior vice president for economic and strategic analysis for the Distilled Spirits Council. “By discriminating against spirits, the DoD is picking marketplace winners and losers and trying to dictate consumer preferences … excluding spirits puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”
Following a 90-day pilot program in the last half of 2018, DoD decided to continue sales of beer and wine at the 12 test stores while it evaluated whether to expand sales to the rest of the system’s 226 commissaries in the U.S. and abroad.