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On-Premises Booze Sales Rise

People are spending more on alcoholic drinks in bars and restaurants. Does that mean more DUIs?

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Beer is the most popular beverage in
American bars. Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

12/05/12

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Flat economy or no, alcohol sales in bars and restaurants are climbing. According to Technomic’s 2012 BarTAB (Trends in Adult Beverage) report, on-premises sales of spirits, wine and beer rose 4.9% in 2011, reaching $93.7 billion—and projections suggest that the trend will continue. “Rising consumer confidence in the economy—although it’s not back to pre-recession levels and is at risk due to the pending fiscal cliff—is bringing them back into restaurants and allowing them to order a glass of wine or beer or a cocktail,” Donna Hood Crecca, senior director at Technomic, tells The Fix. “That, coupled with the dining trend of exploration of flavorful adult beverages and learning about various expressions of spirits, styles of beer and the world of wine will contribute to the sales growth.” Beer is by far the most popular choice for bar and restaurant drinkers, according to the report—it accounts for over 80% of all drinks sold. Booze options also impact where consumers eat: one third of people say that alcohol selection and drinks programs influence their decision to visit an establishment.

So will this increase in on-premises sales see a corresponding rise in DUIs? Crecca thinks not: “Spending was up, but overall adult beverage volume decreased—so the trend is towards people spending more per drink, not necessarily drinking more per occasion,” she tells us. “They’re buying higher-end spirits and wine, craft beer and other premium beverages. These types of drinks pair well with food and are often consumed with food.” She believes that it's ultimately up to individual establishments to create a safe environment: “The risk of DUIs really comes from irresponsible service and consumption practices,” she says. “We see restaurant operators investing in training and other initiatives to prevent the overconsumption that can lead to driving offenses.”

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