Alcohol Sales at Restaurants & Bars Expected to Increase in 2011

Restaurant and bar owners are expected to see a modest boost in alcoholic beverage sales in 2011, according to new research from consulting firm Technomic Inc., as consumers are beginning to order more drinks as they entertain away from home.  Overall restaurant and bar alcohol sales are forecast to increase a nominal 1.9% in 2011. 

The past several years were brutal for the alcohol category in bars and restaurants” as “consumers were trading down to value offerings or simply not ordering alcohol at all,” Henkes said.

While a positive forecast is good news for bars and restaurants, the fact is that we’re comparing 2011 to a very weak year in 2010,” he continued. “There are still some longer-​term structural issues in the economy, including unemployment, that tell us that the improvement in alcohol sales won’t be as robust as it has been after previous downturns.”

Technomic is predicting that cocktails will see the greatest sales growth in 2011 among alcoholic beverage categories, with an increase of 2.3% in 2011 versus 2010’s forecasted growth of 0.7%. Trends that are expected to increase sales in 2011 include “skinny” or lower calorie drinks, premium and high-​cachet gins and bourbons and “retro cocktails,” among other concepts.

Beer sales, which were flat in 2010, are expected to climb by 1.6% in 2011, supported by continued strength among craft and microbrewery specialty products, Technomic indicated.

In addition, wine sales, which were down 10.8% in 2009, are expected to grow by 1.4% in 2011. Wine sales, Technomic officials said, are “being depressed by a move towards more wines-​by-​the-​glass and lower-​priced value wines.”

Bar sales, according to David Henkes of Technomic, “obviously still are a big profit driver for restaurants and bars,” compared with the typical margin for foods, so operators are “still better off by trying to build their alcohol business.” Apart from their positive impact on profits, bar programs also can favorably influence the guest experience," Henkes added.

Source:  "Alcohol sales at restaurants and bars expected to increase by nearly 2 percent in 2011, says Technomic."  8 Dec. 2010.  Web.  17 Dec. 2010.