GuestMetrics: On-Premise Alcohol Sales Slowed in Fourth Quarter

LEESBURG, VA – According to GuestMetrics, based on its proprietary database of POS transactions of over $8 billion dollars in transactions and over 250 million checks from restaurants and bars across the United States over the past two years, 2012 closed out the year with a relatively weak 4th quarter and holiday season.

“Comparing the year-over-year trends of the first nine months of the year against those of the final quarter, we see the number of alcoholic beverages sold deteriorated during the final quarter of the year, including the holiday season, which is obviously important for restaurants and their suppliers given December is the second largest month of the year for the on-premise sector.” said Bill Pecoriello, CEO of GuestMetrics LLC.

Based on data from GuestMetrics, total alcoholic beverages units sold in on-premise was flat for the first 9 months in 2012 compared to the same period for 2011, but then decelerated in 4Q12 by approximately 1.5 points. This brought full year 2012 on-premise alcohol units down about 30 basis points versus the prior year. Looking specifically at December, alcoholic beverages were weaker than the overall 4Q12 trend by about 1 percent, primarily due to there being one less Friday in December 2012 than in December 2011.

“Looking at the deceleration in trends of 4Q12 versus the first nine months of the year, we believe this is indicative of a consumer base that likely cut back on discretionary spending in the face of unusually high levels of macro-related uncertainty towards the end of the year,” said Peter Reidhead, VP of Strategy and Insights at GuestMetrics. According to data from GuestMetrics, the deceleration was seen across all three alcohol categories, with the number of beers sold slowing about 1.5 points (from -0.5% for the first 9 months to -2% for the 4th quarter), spirits volume also slowing about 1.5 points (from flat for the first 9 months to -1.5% for the 4th quarter), and wine volume slowing the most at nearly 3 points (from +2.2% for the first 9 months to -0.6% for the 4thquarter).

“Looking specifically at the beer, spirits, and wine categories, we see that the sub-segments within each faired differently,” said Brian Barrett, President of GuestMetrics. “In beer, premium regular suffered the largest slow-down in the final quarter compared to the first 9 months of the year, slowing nearly 5 points, premium light slowed about 2 points, and craft and imports both slowed about 1.5 points, though craft still grew solidly against 2011. In spirits, the biggest deceleration was seen among premium brands at about 3 points, while super premium, high end premium, and cocktails all slowed about 1.5 points. And lastly, looking at wine, the slow-downs are inversely related to the price tiers, with economy slowing nearly 4 points, super premium and popular premium both slowing about 2 points, and ultra premium holding up the best with a slight deceleration of about one point, but similar to craft beers, still growing at a healthy clip against 2011.”

About GuestMetrics LLC

GuestMetrics, LLC is revolutionizing how the hospitality industry operates. Despite the dawn of the Digital Age having begun more than three decades ago, the hospitality industry essentially functions the same way it did centuries before. GuestMetrics has cracked the code by collecting data from tens of thousands of restaurants and turning billions of raw transactions into intelligible data that is fundamentally transforming the business operations of everyone from the independently-owned bar/restaurant on the corner, to multi-national chains, to the food & beverage companies that supply them. Please visit for more information and to arrange for a free demonstration.

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