Is 'Dry January' hurting bars and alcohol retailers? Enterprise execs chime in


‘Sober curious’ People strive dry January

Dependancy and restoration specialist Adam Jablin says the New 12 months is an effective time to take a tough take a look at previous habits on ‘Kennedy.’

Some Dry January objectors have speculated that the annual well being marketing campaign is hurting bars and alcohol retailers, but professionals within the discipline say there’s a number of explanation why some small enterprise house owners are struggling. 

The 31-day abstinence motion could not have helped the alcohol trade, particularly when a Morning Seek the advice of market analysis report says Dry January has grown in reputation from 13% of American adults practising it in 2021, to a projected 19% for 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic and seasonal tendencies are bigger components which can be possible answerable for declining alcohol gross sales.


Pat Mild, founder and president of the Mild Restaurant Group – which incorporates the Inexperienced Rock bar and McSwiggan’s Pub in Hoboken, New Jersey, advised Wholesome Dwelling Crew that January hasn’t been the most effective month for bars prior, and amid pandemic.

Pat Mild, the founder and proprietor of the McSwiggan’s Pub in Hoboken, New Jersey, tells Wholesome Dwelling Crew that January is usually a sluggish month for the bar trade. (Google Maps)

“In the course of the first two weeks of January, we noticed a slight lower in alcohol gross sales throughout the group,” Mild advised Wholesome Dwelling Crew in an e mail. “Whereas Dry January contributed to the lower, it is not the one issue impacting alcohol gross sales. Traditionally, January tends to be a slower month for the trade for a number of causes, together with New 12 months’s well being resolutions, folks slowing their spending after holidays, and now ongoing considerations associated to the pandemic, to call a couple of.”

He continued, “The largest challenge dealing with bars and eating places proper now, particularly in New York Metropolis, is COVID-19 restrictions. We’ve got seen a big uptick in folks coming throughout the Hudson River to Hoboken as a result of New Jersey would not require proof of vaccinations for indoor eating. For my part, the impression of COVID-19 on the trade is much like when a inventory market bubble bursts: It is going to weed out poorly run bars and eating places and the well-run locations will proceed to succeed.”


To climate pandemic challenges, Mild and his workforce have up to date every location’s menus, constructed out of doors eating buildings, leveraged social media to draw patrons and raised costs to offset rising meals and alcohol prices.        

“As in any trade, bars and eating places must adapt or they’ll falter,” Mild famous.

Whereas Dry January definitely doesn’t assist the alcohol trade, particularly when a Morning Seek the advice of market analysis report says the well being marketing campaign has grown in reputation from 13% of American adults practising it in 2021 to a projected 19% for 2022, th (iStock)

Ken Lineberger, founder and CEO of Waters Edge Wineries – a single-brand vineyard with greater than a dozen places all through California, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, Ohio and Oklahoma – advised FOX he isn’t sure that Dry January has performed a task within the firm’s on-premise gross sales.

“January is usually a quieter month after a busy December – which was our greatest month of 2021,” Lineberger mentioned. “We are also challenged with staffing points which trigger our places to restrict the variety of visitors they’ll serve typically leaving tables vacant if we will’t present the high-quality service in every vineyard. On high of that, we have now skilled the wave of omicron that has impacted our staffing and our visitors who’ve contracted the sickness.”

He added, “Regardless of all of this, our January gross sales are anticipated to be similar to 2021 gross sales, if not barely higher because of the bettering economic system in most areas of the nation. It’s unclear if Dry January is having any unfavorable impression on our gross sales given these different components that could be influencing it in a extra pronounced method.”


Bob Ray, chief working officer at Margaritas Administration Group – a margarita-focused Mexican restaurant model with 25 places within the Northeast – advised FOX that Dry January doesn’t appear to be hindering its enterprise.

“Our ratio of bar gross sales to meals gross sales has stayed constant this month, and we have now seen a tick up in how typically our visitors are selecting to have a margarita,” Ray mentioned. “In some markets, we have now seen different bars and eating places shut earlier – typically as a result of staffing changes however perhaps additionally seasonality. We’ve got held agency on hours and proceed to be up in gross sales after 9 p.m. in comparison with pre-pandemic ranges. Alcohol gross sales, and particularly margarita gross sales are the core of this later enterprise for us.”

With places in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Margaritas hasn’t been proof against exterior components like winter storms, however the firm has “shifted as much as 20%” of its eating enterprise to takeout, in line with Ray. 

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In comparison with mom-and-pop bars that primarily promote alcohol over meals, takeout and supply providers is usually a potential problem relying on native ordinances on liquor gross sales and the rise of direct-to-consumer alcohol sellers and third-party supply providers.

A media consultant for Restaurant365 advised FOX that liquor gross sales at eating places throughout the nation are down a mean of 143% from December to January, in line with knowledge the all-in-one restaurant administration software program platform has on file.

Bars and eating places that promote alcohol are seeing a gross sales decline that is possible the results of post-holiday penny-pinching, pandemic-related sheltering in place and health-conscious New 12 months’s resolutions, amongst a number of different exterior components. (iStock)

All through the U.S., meals and beverage service leaders have cited shopper hesitance for dine-in service in mild of the current COVID-19 omicron surge as a significant factor in declining gross sales. Subsequent vaccine mandates for indoor eating could also be an element for unvaccinated patrons preferring to eat and drink at residence.

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As of Jan. 27, 2022, the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard’s tally exhibits greater than 19.2 million People have been contaminated inside a 28-day interval nationwide. Greater than 50,910 of these circumstances have resulted in dying.

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