Alcohol Sales Are Back on the Rise
A return to pre-recession revelry might be a sign that the economy is on the mend.
If you're looking for signs that the recession is drawing to a close, look no further than the rapid upswings of booze sales last year. US shipments of spirits in 2011 increased 2.7 percent over the previous year, marking the strongest increase in five years and nearly hitting the 2.9 percent annual average increase of pre-recession times. Spirit sales increased by 2.0 percent in 2010 and 1.4 percent in 2009. ""We are back to pre-recession growth levels," said David Ozgo, an economist with the Distilled Spirits Council of the US. Sales of high-end spirits are also in line with pre-recession growth levels, reaching 5.3 percent in 2011 and nearly hitting the annual average increase of 5.8 percent. This compares to a 3.3 percent increase in 2010 and a decrease of 3.5 percent in 2009. Although the overall revenues only went up 4 percent last year to $19.9 billion, well short of pre-recession annual growth of 6.5 percent, it's still a big increase from the 2.3 percent rate in 2010 and the zero growth rate in 2009. Ozgo said that while unemployment is still high at 8.5 percent nationwide as of December 2011, that number has been coming down and easing tension in the spending habits of consumers.