January 10, 2009

Bar owners say recession hurting sales

Bar owners say the recession is hurting alcohol sales more than previous slumps in which alcoholic beverages proved recession-resistant.

More customers are showing up in the late afternoon for so-called happy hour, when bars discount the price of drinks and food during what otherwise would be a slow time, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

You start watching your pennies a bit more, said Luis Romero of Anaheim, whose favorite pint of ale retails for $3.75 at happy hour and then jumps to $6 just a few hours later at Shoreline Village in Long Beach.

More than 40 percent of bar managers, bar owners and bartenders surveyed said they had seen a decrease in traffic while 25 percent noted a drop in the number of drinks ordered and 22 percent said customers were ordering less expensive drinks, said the trade publication Wine & Spirits Daily.

This is far worse than anything we have seen, said Eric Schmidt, an analyst at research firm Adams Beverage Group.