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Spirits outsell beer on St. Patrick’s Day

Research shows that spirits such as Irish whiskey have become more popular on the traditionally beer-driven holiday

While beer may seem like the go-to alcoholic beverage for the American celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, spirits account for a greater percentage of sales during the holiday.

When comparing overall alcohol sales in the first quarter of 2012 to those on St. Patrick’s Day alone, research firm GuestMetrics, which analyzes point-of-sale data, found that the spirits accounted for 45.2 percent of alcohol sales in the first quarter and 49 percent on St. Patrick’s Day. For those same periods, beer accounted for 34 percent of alcohol sales on St. Patrick’s Day and 28.1 percent during the first quarter.

GuestMetrics pointed out that the increased portion of alcohol sales for spirits and beer came at the expense of wine, which for the first quarter of 2012 accounts for 26.7 percent of alcohol sales, but on St. Patrick’s Day accounts for 17 percent of alcohol sales.

Guest Metrics sales

In 2012, Irish whiskey was the fastest-growing spirit category, according to the Industry Review released earlier this year by the Distilled Spirits Council of United States (DISCUS).

DISCUS, a national trade association representing distillers in America, tracks volume and supplier sales trends each year for the entire spirits market, including retail and wholesale. The association reported that Irish whiskey volume on the market rose 22.5 percent in 2012 and revenue to suppliers rose 23.7 percent.

GuestMetrics also found Irish whiskey to be one of the two spirit categories to have the largest gains in 2012 restaurant and bar sales, coming in second only to bourbons and blends, another whiskey category.

For operators who are still looking to capitalize on beer sales for St. Patrick’s Day, pricing may be on their side. GuestMetrics found that the average price of beer on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012 was higher than the overall first-quarter average price of beer for 2012.

According to GuestMetrics, the data suggests “restaurants and bars are more aggressive with beer pricing on St. Patrick’s Day to capitalize on the increased demand.”

Contact Sonya Moore at [email protected].

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