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Alcohol sales thrive in hard times

on 08/06/11 at 10:21 am

Booze News

Alcohol sales climbed with little interruption throughout the recent recession, and have continued to expand in recent months.

This is in spite of — or maybe because of — the stagnant job market. So the old adage — that the booze industry survives in a recession because people drink even when they’re broke — appears to be true.

“I wouldn’t say it’s recession proof,” said Esther Kwon, an alcohol industry analyst for Standard & Poor’s. “People will buy less and they will move to different venues, meaning moving to home instead of a bar. But people will continue to drink, regardless.”

Alcoholic beverage sales grew by nearly 10% during the 12 months ended May 31, according to financial information company Sageworks, even though the average unemployment rate during that time exceeded 9.3%.

Sales expanded more than 9% in 2008, the first full year of the recession, when the average unemployment rate was 5.8%. Sales slumped dramatically the following year, but were still 1% higher, as the unemployment rate shot up to about 9.3%.

In 2010, sales jumped more than 9% as unemployment grew to 9.6%.

“These numbers grew almost in spite of the recession,” said Sageworks analyst Sam Zippin, noting health care was the only other industry to maintain growth through the recession. “Other than going to the doctor, [alcohol] is another need to have.”


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