Citing a positive sales trend from restaurants and bars, Technomic has revised its forecast upward for sales of beverage alcohol sold away from home. Technomic now expects beverage alcohol sold in bars, restaurants and other on-premise establishments to grow by 1.1 percent this year, up from the decline of 2.5 percent forecasted at the end of 2009.

“Our expectations for segments like casual dining, fine dining and bars are much higher than they were six months ago,” said David Henkes, vice president at Technomic and the director of the firm’s on-premise practice. “Consumers are returning to restaurants, and that’s good news for the sales of alcohol and related products.”

Beer and spirits-based drinks should benefit the most, while wine sales will still lag due to consumers trading down to less-expensive wines, or ordering by the glass instead of by the bottle.

Henkes cautioned, however, that alcohol sales will still slightly lag behind broader restaurant and bar sales, and said that the industry won’t fully recover from the economic downturn for at least another year.

“While it’s good news that we’re starting to see growth after nearly two years of declines, the industry is not out of dangerous territory yet, and the recovery isn’t as robust as it has been in previous recessions," he said. He noted that alcohol should be an area of focus for operators given its higher profitability.

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