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Albertans spending less on alcohol and drinking less too

Albertans spending less on alcohol and drinking less too

Posted on: 5/17/2018 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team


For many Albertans, the May-long weekend is the first real chance to experience summer after a long winter. It’s a chance to fire up the barbeque, pack our coolers full of our favourite wine and beer and (hopefully) soak up the sun. However, when it comes to consuming those alcoholic drinks, Albertans may be spending less and drinking less than in previous years.

In 2016-17, total sales of alcohol in our province reached $2.5 billion (the value of sales of alcoholic beverages excludes all sales taxes, the value of returnable containers and deposits). Last year’s sales total was a reduction of 3.4 per cent ($90 million) from 2015-16. Not only did Albertans spend less, but they drank less too. In fact, volume for total sales had fallen about five per cent over the year.

Beer remained Albertans’ favourite patio drink in 2017. Last year, Albertans spent $1.1 billion on beer. But, despite being Albertans’ number one choice and despite the increasing popularity of Alberta’s craft beer scene, Alberta reported the most significant decrease in beer sales among all provinces (-5.9 per cent). Beer volume sold was down by about six per cent, too.

Wine and spirits (such as vodka, gin and whisky) also saw fewer sales, and less volume was consumed. Wine sales rang in at $592 million (a decline of -1.6 per cent from 2016), and total volume fell by a little more than two per cent. Sales of spirits totalled $751 million (-1.7 per cent change year-over-year), and volume was close to three per cent less than in 2016.

There are a few reasons as to why total alcohol sales and volumes declined from the previous year. One is that the price of alcohol has risen at a higher rate than the average rate of inflation (inflation reached 1.5 per cent in 2017). Last year, for example, beer purchased from stores was four per cent more costly than it was in 2016. Another is that the province’s labour market is also still feeling the effects of two years of recession, and many Albertans have had to prioritise their spending to more non-discretionary items like groceries and home heating.

Alcohol sales, Alberta, graph​​

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