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More consumers plan to drink this year

Source: Reuters
By Martinne Geller
Thu, May 5 2011
After keeping a tight lid on spending on alcoholic beverages in the economic downturn, more U.S. consumers appear ready to go out and drink again. Some 87 percent of U.S. consumers plan to spend the same or more on alcoholic drinks in the coming 12 months, according to a study released on Thursday by business advisory firm AlixPartners. That is up from 70 percent the same time last year.
When asked where they saw themselves spending, 37 percent of respondents cited restaurants, up from 20 percent last year, while 37 percent cited bars, up from 21 percent. “Consumers, before, had a deadbolt and padlock mentality around some of their discretionary spending,” David Garfield, head of the AlixPartners’ Consumer Products Practice, told Reuters. “They are going from pessimistic toward cautiously optimistic, but are still very value-conscious.
“The results of the survey, which polled 1,000 people across the country in early February, bode well for a host of consumer companies — from Anheuser-Busch InBev, Constellation Brands Inc and Diageo PLC to Coca-Cola Co, DineEquity Inc and Costco Wholesale Corp — as they take advantage of an improving economy and consumer confidence.
When it comes to non-alcoholic drinks, about 84 percent of respondents said they planned to spend the same or more, as opposed to early 2010 when 74 percent said they planned to spend the same or more on soft drinks, coffee, teas, sports drinks and bottled water.And when asked where they planned to spend, about 37 percent of consumers cited convenience stores as a likely purchase destination, up from 27 percent a year ago, while warehouse club stores were cited by 28 percent of respondents, up from 19 percent last year.
While it depends on the category, Garfield said that in many cases, the number of people who said they planned to spend the same was relatively unchanged, but fewer people said they would spend less and more people said they would spend more. “When consumers were feeling more of the full frontal assault of the financial crisis and the recession, more of them were likely to say they were going to spend less in total,” Garfield said. “Fewer consumers are saying ‘I’m going to spend less,’ but they haven’t swung over to say ‘I’m going to spend a lot more.'”