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Women to drive up drink sales: Study

A surge in drinking by women and a rise in midweek imbibing will fuel a 14% rise in beverage sales at U.S. restaurants and bars during the next five years, according to a study released yesterday. But what Americans consume will shift significantly, and in a decidedly back-to-the-future way, the report asserts. It predicts a marked increase in the purchase of non-alcoholic beverages, with soda likely to account for 37% of on-premise drink sales in 2008, compared with a 30.6% share today.

At the same time, forecasts the study from London-based Datamonitor, U.S. consumers will buy more premium beverages, resuming the drink-less-but-better trend of the late 1990s.

The study expects the drink mix to change for restaurants and bars because of an anticipated upswing in beverage purchases during the week. Datamonitor forecasts that the typical American will buy 44 drinks between Monday and Friday in 2008, compared with the present incidence rate of 36 occasions. The researcher attributes the shift in habits to desires to extend the weekend, avoid the crowds of a Friday or Saturday night, and "maintain a work/life balance."

The other dynamic likely to raise and change the mix of on-premise beverage sales is an increase in the number of women who feel comfortable about drinking outside their homes. Datamonitor predicts that the consumption of alcoholic beverage by female consumers will jump 27% by 2009.

"The feminization of alcohol has had the single biggest impact on the [on-premise] trade in the past 15 years, and has affected male drinking habits," said Danielle Rebelo, a consumer-markets analyst for Datamonitor and author of the drink study, "Trends and Behaviors in the On-Trade 2004." She attributes the sharp rise in drinking by women to changes in their earning power, relationships, and status.

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