This Is A Big Business – amount of money spent on alcoholic beverages in bars in 1999 – Brief Article

This Is A Big Business – amount of money spent on alcoholic beverages in bars in 1999 – Brief Article – Statistical Data Included

Did you know that the total dollar volume of the spirits, wine and beer sold in your bars and restaurants last year reached an all-time high of $57.2 Billion? Well, according to Adams Handbook Advance 2000, it did and that’s a big number by anybody’s reckoning. It’s a figure more than $2.5 Billion greater than the total 1998 sales, which were $2.5 Billion greater than they were in 1997. Do you see a trend here?

It seems that all the talk we’ve been hearing for years about Americans “drinking less, but drinking better,” isn’t just wishful thinking hut in fact the reality of the beginning of the 21st Century. The increase in sales can’t be attributed to any notable increase in drinking, because the total case volume of spirits, wine and beer has not climbed as dramatically as the dollar volume.

Let’s take beer as an example. In 1999 the $30.3 Billion spent by American consumers for beer on-premise represents a 6.1% increase over 1998 spending, but the actual amount of beer consumed only grew by slightly half of that (+3.2%). The answer can’t just be that people are drinking more beer, because total beer consumption only went up about 1.5%. It’s more that a greater percentage of the beer they drink is more expensive beer. Another factor is that every year a slightly greater percentage of all beer consumption takes place on-premise, where the retail price is generally higher.

Certainly a look at the total beer picture backs up the “less but better” hypothesis. The biggest gains among beer categories were realized by the imported beer segment. Total imported beer volume was up 10.4%. And among some of the biggest import brands, growth was considerably in excess of that figure. Corona, for example posted a gain of 21% over 1998. And, as we all know, you can charge a considerably higher price for an import than you can for a domestic.

We’ve also seen similar growth in the wine segment where premium varietal table wines continue to he the largest and fastest growing segment of the business, not to mention the most important for the on-premise sector. Among spirits, where call brands and a premium orientation on-premise are more well-established, growth has been slightly slower both in sales and volume, but growing nevertheless.

For what it’s worth, this evidence suggests that those of you who have championed the cause of quality products and premium brands have been right. Hopefully, your bottom lines reflect the value of your wisdom. For those of you who have lived by the dictates of lower prices, perhaps the time has come to take a new approach.


Robert Keane

Editorial Director

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