Booze Money: Are Americans Drinking Smarter & Better?

by The Drink Nation on Jun 21, 2012 in Culture
Booze Money: Are Americans Drinking Smarter & Better?

NPR’s Smart Money published a great series of infographics describing the differences in booze spending in 2012 vs. 1982, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The first takeaway is that the average American spends $1 out of every $100 on drinking. One percent of your hard-earned moolah goes to get you buzzed, and this fact hasn’t changed over the last 30 years.

What has changed are what we spend that money on — we drink at bars and restaurants instead of at home much more often (40% vs. 24% of the time). The restaurant boom spreading across the U.S. might mean we actually drink less: it’s more expensive to drink in bars than it is to make your own, and we’re spending the same amount of money. Hence, we must be imbibing lower quantities, as a nation.

It’s not only anecdotal that it’s more expensive to go out than be a hermit, since 1982, drinks at bars and restaurants have skyrocketed 79% (in inflation-adjusted dollars), whereas the cost of booze at the liquor store has dropped nearly 40%.

Maybe Americans are becoming more cultured, too. When we do buy at the store and take it back to our dens, we’re buying much more wine than in the ‘80s, and less hard liquor. (The amount of beer we take home has stayed pretty much the same.) We’d suggest the rise in individual wine purchase is thanks to the ready availability of information on different vintages and varietals now easily accessible online — you don’t have to be a trained sommelier just to make sure you snag a good bottle.

For more graphics and links to supporting studies, head over to the original piece on NPR.

Top photo by Danya Henninger; infographic by Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

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