Industry

What America Spends On Beverage Alcohol

By Lam Thuy Vo June 20, 2012
NPR
Out of every $100 American consumers spend, about $1 goes to alcohol. That hasn't changed much over the past 30 years.

But where we spend our money on alcohol has changed quite a bit. We spend a bigger chunk of our alcohol money in bars and restaurants. We spend less money buying alcohol at the store to drink at home.

That doesn't necessarily mean we go out more often. Adjusted for inflation, the price of alcohol we buy at the store has gone down. The price of alcohol at bars has gone way up.

This isn't particularly surprising. Over time, you expect productivity gains and falling prices in manufactured goods. But a bartender today can't make drinks any faster than a bartender 30 years ago. In other words, there haven't been major productivity gains at bars. When a sector lags in productivity growth, it tends to have increasing prices.  

Of the money we spend drinking at home, more goes to wine and less goes to hard alcohol. The percentage of our alcohol dollar that goes to beer hasn't changed much.