While retailers and all types of small businesses often approach the holidays with some trepidation, one sector consistently sees especially ‘spirited’ sales from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day: the sector known as ‘beer, wine and liquor stores.’
And what better day to celebrate with them than December 5—Repeal Day—that commemorates the end of Prohibition when the 21st amendment to the Constitution was ratified on December 5, 1933.
Repealday.org says this about this momentous occasion:
We celebrate Repeal Day because December 5th marks a return to the rich traditions of craft fermentation and distillation, the legitimacy of the American bartender as a contributor to the culinary arts, and the responsible enjoyment of alcohol as a sacred social custom.
But the reasons to celebrate go beyond pleasure, tradition and personal freedoms. Today the ‘beer, wine and liquor’ sector, comprising over 41,000 specialty and non-specialty stores that are licensed specifically to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption, takes in $46 billion annually.
The sector employs nearly 175,000 across the U.S. and is considered in many ways to be a classic small business industry. In 2012, 97% of businesses in the sector employ fewer than 20 people, and none employ more than 50. Many stores are family owned and operated.
And beer, wine and liquor stores are not the only ones celebrating. Many restaurants and bars across the country even hold special events in honor of Repeal Day.
During the last five years, the uncertainty and unemployment that affected our budgets caused us to drink differently, not necessarily more or less, say those who watch the industry. We all learned to save money by buying more alcoholic beverages retail and staying home rather than going out to restaurants and bars. Analysts say that in a recovering economy, this trend has already begun to reverse itself.
But restaurants and bars aren’t the only competition. Grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores and now even big chains like Costco, can sell alcohol, as changing state laws deregulate the industry.
The holidays, however, seem to bring a win-win to everyone. With at-home entertaining, holiday parties and gift giving, businesses selling any form of beer, wine or spirits get a major boost in November and December through the first of the next year.
Alcohol has long been considered a great versatile gift, whether for friends or business associates or as a hostess gift, and there’s no shortage of gift-giving guides to help ensure that buyers make good choices.
Epicurious.com prefaces its gift guide with the following advice to buyers:
Trends are changing. Much of the drinking public now seems to yearn for innovations: a new flavor, a new finish, a new blend, or a new vintage. This has divided boozers into two groups: those who stick with the tried-and-true—‘I’m a Black Label Man’—and those who seek to broaden their tippling territory.
During the holidays, when most prized bottles are procured, we must step back for a moment and make sure the bottle fits its intended recipient: Is this for dad, mom, the boss, or for yourself? To sip slowly by the fire or to stock in the Christmastime bar?
Trends are indeed a key factor that affects the beer, wine and liquor sector. Our tastes as drinkers, it seems, are constantly veering into new territory. Consider the rise in popularity of wine; but then liquor became fashionable again: Think pomegranate martini. And in an article last summer about evolving trends in drinking, Time reported that we’re drinking a lot of craft beer.
So whether you’re entertaining at home, having a drink at a bar or giving the always-appreciated gift of alcohol this holiday season, you might want to keep an open mind and a sense of adventure.
Read about the growing popularity of ciders (65% growth in 2012!) among the young and affluent on Nielsen Wire. The New York-based market research firm also reports that alcohol drinks packaged in pouches—often marketed as frozen cocktails—approached $200 million in annual sales (just through last August) in measured channels.
But here’s one you haven’t heard of, guaranteed to be a unique gift. For the truly adventurous gift giver, the Columbus Dispatch reports that even beginners can infuse vodka and gin with herbs and fruit to make delicious, personal, one-of-a-kind gifts.
Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net