As many industries struggle to recover in the aftermath of one of our most devastating recessions, one industry emerges nearly unscathed amidst the rubble. Budget- priced beer, wine, and liquor sales over the past two years have skyrocketed, proving that the millions of people who are out of work and facing foreclosure still have money to buy their booze.
There are some obvious shifts in the types of alcohol that are being consumed, along with where it is being consumed. Restaurants and bars across the US have been struggling to stay in business, as many people are opting to visit the grocery store in order to buy their drink of choice.
Restaurants and bars provide luxuries that often tote a 400% profit margin. This is necessary for a restaurant to turn a profit after making up for the huge overhead they’ve invested in the atmosphere and staff. As a result, many Americans have decided to stay home and drink around the grill to save some cash. It makes sense; why spend $40 in a bar when you can have nearly the same experience for $10 at home?
So how much have sales really increased? A recent article in Business Week Magazine recorded an increase of 1.4% for value priced liquors, 6% for cheap wine, and over 7% for the cheapest beer segment. Sales of import beers and expensive spirits are down, yet the sale of cheap beer, wine, and liquor have more than made up the difference. The quantity of cheap booze being sold has increased so dramatically that it has allowed for a profit increase even at its lower sale price. It becomes apparent that it is the “buzz,” not the taste that people are after during a recession.
With all of this alcohol being sold, why is there so little talk of problems with alcoholism or alcohol abuse in the US? Recent statistics state that 7.4 million Americans are alcoholics or have an alcohol abuse problem. However, very few of these people realize they have a problem. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently issued a report stating that out of adults aged 21 to 64 who suffer from alcoholism, only 1.2% believe they could benefit from treatment. Even more disturbing is only 7.8% even realized that they needed treatment at all.
So basically, if people want to drink they are going to drink. Americans love it no matter how bad it may be for you or how illegal it becomes. This was evident in the last recession and all throughout prohibition. Alcohol is the drug of choice for America, and we will have it whether we can afford it or not.