High-end alcohol sales drying up

Wine bottles on display


Steve Chiotakis: So what'll it be? Half-empty or half-full? Seems there's a little bit of both this holiday season, with news about alcohol sales and who's drinking what. Jean-Luc Renault reports.

Jean-Luc Renault: Booze makers could probably use a dose of their own medicine right now.

Beverage Media Group Senior Editor Perry Luntz says sales of alcoholic beverages are drying up. And high-end brands are taking the biggest hit. Premium beer sales are down 3.3 percent, with fine wine down 4.4 percent compared to a year ago.

Patty Luntz: And that's what's making the difference -- people can't afford them.

A recent Nielsen survey shows that consumers pinched by the recession are going out less and ordering fewer drinks when they do. Bad news for bars and restaurants. But the good news is alcohol sales at supermarkets and convenience stores are up.

Richard Hurst is Nielsen's Senior Vice President of Beverage Alcohol:

Richard Hurst: We're seeing still some pretty good growth rates in terms of purchases for at-home consumption.

And for those at-home martinis and Manhattans, low-price brands are the poison most people are picking.

In Los Angeles, I'm Jean-Luc Renault for Marketplace.


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