Q&A: Which sells more: beer or wine?

Sales trends in beer, wine, liquor

A friend of mine says more people buy wine than beer in the United States. Is that true?

Not yet, but if the current trend continues wine soon may jump to the top of the list for alcohol of preference.

According to a 2012 National Public Radio report, 47.7 percent of the money spent for alcohol at stores went for beer. That's down slightly from the 48.9 percent in 1982.

Wine was second at 39.7 percent, which is more than a 100 percent increase from 1982, when the figure was 16.2 percent.

Hard liquor was the victim of wine's surging popularity. Dollars spent for liquor accounted for 12.6 percent of the total, down from 34.6 percent in 1982.

While beer sales were stagnant, the craft beer portion of beer sales is booming. In 2012, according to Time magazine, craft beer spending was up 15 percent. And Bloomberg News reported that in 2010 there were 2,000 percent more breweries in the United States than there were in the 1980s.

Another interesting trend is that the number of people buying their drinks at bars or restaurants is rising. In 1982, 76 percent of Americans bought their alcohol at the store and 24 percent at bars or restaurants, according to NPR. In 2011, just 60 percent bought alcohol at stores, and 40 percent bought it at bars or restaurants.

Clarification

A reader wrote about a March 25 column regarding the end of twice-a-day delivery of mail by the U.S. Post Office.

She writes: "Very recently you stated the Post Office stopped delivering mail twice a day in 1950 to save money. I very distinctly remember receiving an afternoon delivery in 1958 in Burlington, Vermont. Perhaps this was only during the Christmas holidays but would appreciate clarification."

Our answer was too definitive. According to the USPS website, "The second residential delivery was discontinued on April 17, 1950, in most cities. Multiple deliveries to businesses were phased out over the next few decades as changing transportation patterns made most mail available for first-trip delivery."

Incidentally, in case you missed it, the USPS recently announced it won't cut Saturday service in August, as previously announced. In its recent resolution to continue funding the government, Congress prohibited the USPS from making the change.

That's at least a temporary break for the 20,000 to 25,000 letter carriers, clerks and mail sorters who were expected to lose their jobs when the USPS ends Saturday delivery. Some of the job losses would have been through attrition, but there also could have been buyouts and reassignments, officials have said. The USPS lost $15.9 billion in the last fiscal year.

Q&A: Which sells more: beer or wine? 04/22/13 [Last modified: Monday, April 22, 2013 7:10pm]

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