The nation’s bars and restaurants can expect a modest uptick in alcohol sales for 2012, according to forecasts released earlier this month by Technomic. Citing slowly improving traffic numbers at many of the major chains and operator expectations for better conditions in 2012, Technomic forecasts that overall consumer expenditures on alcohol away from home will increase 2.4 percent next year.
“While the underlying recovery in bars and restaurants remain fragile, we’re starting to see consumers return to having a drink or two while they’re out,” stated David Henkes, Vice President at Technomic and the director of the firm’s on-premise practice. “Wine sales are poised for the strongest growth, but beer and wine will also see slightly higher consumer sales. While the industry has a long way to go to full recovery, it’s nice to see things moving slowly in the right direction.”
However, Henkes cautions that alcohol sales will still slightly lag behind broader restaurant and bar sales, and notes volume in the industry will likely remain flat, adding that “growth is driven largely by pricing increases and by gains in certain categories like craft beers and premium spirits.” Bars and clubs, one of the biggest drivers of alcohol sales, is expected to underperform many other parts of the industry, holding down overall industry growth expectations.
“We continue to encourage our restaurant and bar clientele to focus on improving their overall beverage program,” Henkes concludes. “Sales are starting to move forward, and as operators try to differentiate themselves, the beverage program can and should play a major role.”