Alcohol Sales Expected to Grow in 2012

Staff Writer
New research projects that alcohol sales will climb despite tough margins

The restaurant industry will see a modest increase in alcohol sales in 2012, but will drive that growth with higher prices and premium offerings, new research from Technomic found.

Overall on-premise alcohol sales are expected to rise 2.4 percent next year, Chicago-based market research firm Technomic Inc. said. Gradually improving traffic numbers and operator expectations of better conditions in 2012 helped fuel expectations.

For 2011, Technomic predicted alcohol sales growth of 1.9 percent, said David Henkes, a Technomic vice president and director of the firm’s on-premise practice. Inflation of 2.5 percent was assumed for both the 2011 and 2012 forecasts, Technomic indicated.

Technomic forecast 3-percent growth in overall food-and-non-alcoholic-beverage sales within the eight segments tracked for on-premise sales, Henkes said.

By industry segment, alcohol sales are expected to grow in 2012 by 3.5 percent in fine dining, 3.2 percent in casual dining, and 5.4 percent in the lodging sector, Technomic said.

Henkes noted that the relatively robust growth within some of those segments, particularly fine dining, are the result of somewhat easy comparisons, as pricier restaurants were hit hard by the recession and have been slower to recover than other segments.

Technomic said it sees nominal growth of alcohol sales of 1.8 percent for casinos, 1.1 percent for recreation facilities and -0.2 percent at concessions operations.

Technomic expects wine sales to increase by 3.5 percent, spirits by 2.3 percent, and beer by 2.2 percent.