Recession-Struck Americans Switch To Cheap Liquor In Larger Bottles, Spending Less And Drinking More

Drunk English Woman

Cash-strapped Americans actually managed to drink more alcohol in 2009, but merely switched down to cheaper forms in order to adjust themselves to the New Normal of economic hardship.

Tequila had a great year, leading the cheap-booze charge with 21% year over year sales growth.

Moreover, the economic downturn may have actually been a boon for the spirits industry, since it appears to have reversed a trend whereby Americans were switching to beer from liquor.

Which makes sense, since liquor is the cheapest way to inebriate yourself:


Cressy said the fact that people were still drinking more spirits bodes well for the industry, still recovering from a long decline from the 1980s through the mid-’90s, when liquor sales fell by a third as drinkers turned to beer. Since then, an ever-increasing array of expensive liquors have fuelled rapid growth.

The industry’s goal to keep people drinking spirits — no matter the price — and it can then get them to pay for higher-priced drinks when the economy recovers. Most major liquor manufacturers make brands in a variety of price ranges.

Matt McCluskey, a 28-year-old researcher in Santa Monica, Calif., started buying most of his alcohol at Costco, trying to save money by buying bigger bottles. Now he spends $36 for 1.75 litres of Maker’s Mark bourbon, rather than $25 for less than half that at his local liquor store.

“It’s a lot harder to pour. That’s the only drawback,” he said.

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