At the beginning of February I posted about the most recent LCBO release of Northern Harvest, replenishing Ontario stocks by about 4500 new bottles. That was followed over the next week by additional releases of 2000, 3000, 800, 500, another 2000 and probably a few hundred or possibly thousand that I may have missed. All totaled, a minimum of 12,8000 bottles were released across the province of Ontario over the first week of February.
It’s now three weeks later and there hasn’t been any new product since then and stocks are sitting at 720 bottles today (February 23). A staggering 12,000 bottles sold in three weeks! I had suggested at the beginning of the month that there was pent-up demand for this expression but that now seems like an gross understatement. Aside from a couple of outliers, the majority of the stock is now sitting in smaller stores in markets well removed from the major Ontario ones, further suggesting that the urban demand for Northern Harvest is still strong and will likely continue of LCBO manages to obtain another tranche of the dwindling producer stock.
Also of note, most of the pubs I’ve frequented of late now have a bottle displayed and available, so there’s also been a commercial stock allotment set aside in addition to the retail. So I’m now asking, what happens next? Will the retail price rise and/or will there be empty shelves once again? LCBO, in general, doesn’t bump their prices based on demand but will based on currency fluctuations and import duties, so the $CDN32.60 price isn’t likely to move. What’s more likely is that Northern Harvest will join the throng of LCBO products with no inventory and no guidance on when more will become available.
This is a disappointing policy with the LCBO, that they cannot state or even estimate when they expect an out-of-stock item to be replenished. If there’s no producer stock available, I completely understand but as a courtesy to us consumers can’t this be communicated? Yes, they posted signs in the stores related to shortages of Northern Harvest, but nothing on the website. In addition, there are hundreds (maybe thousands?) of out-of-stock items listed on their website with not a single note related as to whether the item will be replenished and if so when, or if it will be delisted. Case in point, this just happened with Springbank 10 year. It was out-of-stock for months then a few hundred bottles were released last summer, they sold, there was zero stock for a few more months and then suddenly the item vanished from the website. This does not serve us, the people who use the service provided by the LCBO. That’s us, the people of Ontario, the ones who own the LCBO.