Adult beverage volumes in restaurants and bars contracted 1.3 percent in 2013, according to a new "Special Trends in Adult Beverage Report" from Technomic.
This is compared to a decline of 0.7 percent for adult beverages in the retail space.
"Consumers pulled back on drink occasions at restaurants and bars," David Henkes, Technomic vice president, said in a news release. "Wine and spirits were essentially flat on-premise, while beer declined. That said, there were categories and segments that did well on-premise, thanks to creative presentations and programs, and on-trend flavors and formats. Restaurant and bar operators have opportunities to position spirits, wine and beer offerings as a point of differentiation and grow sales going forward."
Weather has played a role in the downward trend: During the first two months of this year, overall foodservice sales declined 3 to 4 percent nationally and 7 to 8 percent in weather-affected markets such as the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, according to Technomic analysis. As a result, projections call for drink sales in restaurants and bars to remain challenged in 2014.
However, Technomic Research Director Eric Schmidt said there are bright spots: Growth in whiskey, craft beer and domestic table wine.
"These adult beverage categories, driven by unique and often food-friendly flavor profiles, are really relevant to today's consumer," he said. "In the hands of the right bartender and promoted properly, these products can deliver on both experience and value. Although overall adult beverage volume will be challenged this year, we expect dollar growth from the ongoing consumer shift to more expensive categories, such as high-end whiskey and craft beer."