Crappy economy slowing bar traffic

July 18, 2008 by Dave Haynes

Media Buyer Planner is reporting that fewer people are heading out to bars and clubs and of those that do go, they’re skipping the Grey Goose and drinking Absolut.

Nearly 44 percent of bar managers, bar owners and bartenders report a decrease in consumer traffic at their establishments, according to a May 2008 study from The Nielsen Company and Bevinco, writes MarketingCharts.

Among the 500 bar operators surveyed, 25 percent note a decrease in the number of on-premise drinks ordered, and 22 percent say customers are ordering less-expensive drinks.

The bars were located in U.S. nightclubs, hotels, casual restaurants and fine-dining restaurants. Among these types of establishments, the casual dining sector appears hardest hit, with 46 percent of respondents reporting a decline.

I mention this because bars and clubs are one of the hotter sectors in the Digital Out Of Home space, and fewer eyeballs is not all that great a thing. On the other hand, there is an argument to be made that the premium brands need to work a little harder to inspire purchases, or that thinned out crowds are actually a better demographic.

There’s also reason to think a lot of people will be about as disciplined in cutting back their barhopping as they are about going on diets every new year.

A related story mentions that retailers are seeing no real drop in booze sales, which means people are still getting silly, but they’re doing so in backyards, kitchens and dorm rooms.

Maybe there’s a business case for running screen networks in frat houses and off-campus rooming houses, but someone has to be prepared to install a new screen every hour or so.

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