News

Op-ed: Founder of MADD says Utah's new drunk driving law is an unhelpful distraction 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

By Candace Lightner

Jun 17 2017

 

As the opioid crisis metastasizes and marijuana continues to be legalized across the country, drug use is on the rise. And as these substances become more common in everyday life, they also become more common on the road.

 

While drunk driving remains a serious concern, other threats are mounting on our roadways. According to a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, 43 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positive for some sort of drug, legal or illegal. And with the rise of smartphones and other gadgets, people are distracted more than ever while driving.

 

As the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) I can attest that there is a new kind of madness on the roads. And new approaches are needed to save lives.

 

Unfortunately, the necessary debate on how to solve these new challenges isn't happening in earnest. The traffic safety community is distracted by an issue that will do little to save lives: lowering the drunk driving arrest threshold from .08 to .05.

 

And they're distracting the public as well.

 

Back in the early years at MADD we focused on getting serious drunk drivers off the road. Believe it or not, back then someone who was pulled over for drunk driving might be sent on their way by an officer with little more than a casual "get home safe." As a result many lives were unnecessarily lost, including my daughter's. In the more than 35 years since MADD's founding, we have fought drunk driving ferociously and saved countless lives in the process.

 

But today, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction - with government agencies pushing states to arrest people for having little to drink before driving instead of pursuing strategies to tackle serious distraction and impairment. Anyone who works in traffic safety knows that most highway deaths are not caused by drivers with low blood alcohol content levels, but are the result of drivers with substance abuse disorders. Focusing finite resources on casual drinkers instead of drug and alcohol abusers is a miscalculation with deadly consequences.

 

Every dollar spent enforcing DUI laws against sober drivers is one not spent on getting the worst offenders off our roads. The effort that the Utah legislature is putting toward lowering the drunk driving arrest threshold - a "solution" without any real evidence to support its efficacy - would be better spent on meaningful solutions, like ensuring that serious drunks are installing ignition interlocks in their cars. According to a new report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation using government data, Utah has the second lowest ignition interlock compliance rate in the country. If the Utah Legislature focused on ensuring that more drunk drivers in the state were installing these devices as mandated, then Utah might really make some progress in its fight to make the roads safer.

 

I'm pleased that the organization I founded isn't one of the groups pursuing the new lower alcohol limit strategy. But that hasn't stopped states like Utah from passing legislation to arrest drivers who are at .05.

 

This has kicked off a national conversation about whether or not it makes sense to put someone in jail for not much more than a single drink (it doesn't). If we are getting into that level of impairment then we should logically be jailing people for cell phone use while driving. The debate needs to focus on how we're going to manage this new world of endlessly distracting gadgets and the legalization of marijuana. Nine states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and we don't have an agreed upon set of standards for how to gauge impairment or a reliable method for roadside testing for drugs in a person's system as we do with breathalyzers and alcohol. Developing these methods and creating more public awareness around drugged driving should be a top priority for our traffic safety officials.

 

I'm not suggesting that we lose our focus or commitment to fighting drunk driving. But we should be clear-eyed about the nature of today's problems.

 

Since 1980, when MADD was founded, drunk driving deaths have plummeted by more than 50 percent. The key to our success was public education. But it's a lot harder to get people's attention today than it was back then, which is all the more reason we shouldn't squander it on issues that don't maximize public safety impact.

 

The conversation on .05 is a distraction. And people are already distracted enough.

 

Candace Lightner is the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, as well as founder and president of We Save Lives.

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Border businesses could see drop in sales 

Monday, June 19, 2017 1:27:00 PM

By: Aaron Eades

Posted: Jun 12, 2017 10:56 PM CDT

Updated: Jun 13, 2017 09:52 AM CDT

 

DANVILLE, Ill. and COVINGTON, Ind. (WCIA) -- Every day, people cross the border to escape Indiana's strict alcohol laws, but there's a chance they could change soon.

A poll taken last month revealed the majority of people in Indiana support relaxing the state's restrictions on beer, wine and liquor sales. But if that happens, businesses in Illinois could take a hit.

In Indiana, you can't buy alcohol on Sundays, and you can't buy cold beer in convenience stores. It's only sold warm.

Across the border in Illinois, you can buy cold beer seven days a week. Those in the Hoosier state say changing the rules is a matter of convenience, but for businesses at the border, it's a matter of profit.

At this convenience store on Lynch Road, clerk Kelly Gerling says she can barely keep enough cold beer on the shelves.

"We go through a lot of beer on Sundays," she says.

The store is right off I-74, right next to the border, and it's the right idea for a lot of Indiana drinkers.

"They don't even mess with the hot beer over there," says Gerling. "They will drive miles from Indiana to get here to get liquor."

A few miles away, the I & I State Line Tavern is only steps from the border. One of the bartenders says Indiana's laws give them plenty of business.

"I'd say people drive probably like an hour's drive to get here, just to buy beer on Sundays," says Tracie Matthias.

On a hot day, cold beer is a luxury on the Indiana side of the border, which is why many people are warming up to the idea of changing the law.

"I'm open to any kind of alcohol sales on Sunday," says Josh Rainey, of Covington.

A group of guys toasting the end of the workday say planning for the weekend can be tricky.

"Either have to plan ahead on Saturday if you want to drink or you have to go to the state line like we normally have to," says Rainey.

That's something they'd prefer not to do.

"It'd be a lot more convenient than running to Illinois to get it," says Roger Bowling. "If something comes up, you need alcohol, you got to run over there instead of running four miles the other way."

Not everyone thinks convenience should be the goal. Chuck Whitaker says he likes the status quo, pointing out the dangers of alcoholism and driving drunk.

"I don't think we need it," he says. "People can get all the alcohol they want and store it in their house if they want it."

The majority of people in Indiana may not want to have to stock up. It's an idea Illinois' border business owners won't necessarily drink to.

"I'm sure it concerns the owners quite a bit," says Matthias. "And it does concern me too, because that is a lot of the business that we get on Sundays."

The cold beer and Sunday alcohol sales debates have been heating up in Indiana this year. Several organizations are pressuring state lawmakers to make a change. Border business owners will have to wait to see what happens.

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Illinois Court Scores One for Three-Tier System 

Friday, June 16, 2017 4:40:00 PM

Source: Wine & Spirits Daily

June 13th

 Late last week a judge for the US District Court of Illinois sided with the state and its wholesalers in dismissing a case that challenged the state's direct-to-consumer shipping laws.

 Recall, Lebamoff Enterprises, a retailer in Indiana, filed suit against the state last year over the Illinois Liquor Control Act of '34 (ILCA), which among other things, prevents out-of-state retailers from selling and shipping wine directly to Illinois residents. Lebamoff argued the law is in violation of the Commerce Clause, and the Privileges and Immunities Clause because in-state retailers are allowed to ship DTC.

 According to the plaintiff, the case is based on the same principles as the Granholm case, which determined state direct-to-consumer wine shipping laws could not discriminate between in- and out-of-state producers.

 In his dismissal of the case, the judge claims Lebamoff's Commerce Clause argument "fails at the most basic starting point," because they cannot show that the ILCA "provides for differential treatment of in-state and out-of-state economic interests."

 The judge explained that the difference between Granholm and this case, is that in the Granholm case, allowing in-state suppliers to ship directly to consumers, while denying out-of-state retailers the same privilege did constitute preferential treatment. But in this case, Illinois law requires "all alcohol sold in Illinois by retailers directly to Illinois consumers must pass through the three-tier system," regardless of where the retailer is located, i.e., no discrimination.

 "Unlike in-state retailers who have obtained alcohol under the three-tier regulation system, certain out-of-state retailers...have not proceeded through the regulatory system in place to protect the Illinois public from harm," he continued. 

 

Now we wait to see if there will be an appeal.

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ABL Applauds Congress for Keeping Pro-Competitive Debit Card Swipe Fee Policy in Place 

Monday, June 12, 2017 12:49:00 PM

Source: ABL

June 9, 2017

 Bethesda, MD - American Beverage Licenses (ABL) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for voting to pass the Financial CHOICE Act, which keeps pro-competitive debit card swipe fee policies in place and aids retailers and consumers in the battle against excessive swipe fees.

 "On behalf of the nearly 15,000 independent bar, tavern and package store owners ABL represents, I would like to thank members of Congress for their determined efforts during the legislative process to listen to the concerns of the beverage retailer community and support a bill that maintains laws that have helped level the debit card routing market, and takes into account runaway swipe fees," said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.

 The Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 (H.R. 10), sponsored by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was passed by the House on June 8, 2017 with a 233-186 vote.  The bill received widespread attention as the initial draft included language that would have repealed the consumer and small business measures included in the Durbin Amendment. Repealing or weakening the swipe fee law would have removed competition from the debit routing market, and eliminated other reforms that have benefitted consumers by making transactions not only less expensive, but also more secure. 

 ABL members and state affiliates played an important role in this spring's swipe fee debate, responding to ABL's call to action and opposing the repeal of the Durbin Amendment. Their grassroots advocacy amplified the chorus of American retail businesses that was heard loud and clear across Capitol Hill.

 "This is an important win for our members because it's a bottom line issue that affects their businesses and their customers," said Bodnovich.  "An effort like this is a good reminder that beverage licensees will stand up for their interests on Capitol Hill and continue to play an important role in policy debates that affect their businesses."

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ABL Applauds Congress for Keeping Pro-Competitive Debit Card Swipe Fee Policy in Place 

Monday, June 12, 2017 9:11:00 AM
Posted on June 9, 2017

June 9, 2017 – Bethesda, MD – American Beverage Licenses (ABL) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for voting to pass the Financial CHOICE Act, which keeps pro-competitive debit card swipe fee policies in place and aids retailers and consumers in the battle against excessive swipe fees.

“On behalf of the nearly 15,000 independent bar, tavern and package store owners ABL represents, I would like to thank members of Congress for their determined efforts during the legislative process to listen to the concerns of the beverage retailer community and support a bill that maintains laws that have helped level the debit card routing market, and takes into account runaway swipe fees,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.

The Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 (H.R. 10), sponsored by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was passed by the House on June 8, 2017 with a 233-186 vote. The bill received widespread attention as the initial draft included language that would have repealed the consumer and small business measures included in the Durbin Amendment. Repealing or weakening the swipe fee law would have removed competition from the debit routing market, and eliminated other reforms that have benefitted consumers by making transactions not only less expensive, but also more secure.

ABL members and state affiliates played an important role in this spring’s swipe fee debate, responding to ABL’s call to action and opposing the repeal of the Durbin Amendment. Their grassroots advocacy amplified the chorus of American retail businesses that was heard loud and clear across Capitol Hill.

“This is an important win for our members because it’s a bottom line issue that affects their businesses and their customers,” said Bodnovich. “An effort like this is a good reminder that beverage licensees will stand up for their interests on Capitol Hill and continue to play an important role in policy debates that affect their businesses.”

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2018 ABL Annual Meeting 

Monday, June 12, 2017 9:02:00 AM
Save-the-Date
Join ABL in New Orleans for the 
2018 ABL Annual Meeting

Additional information will be announced in the coming months. 
 
Be sure to visit www.ablusa.org for all the latest details!
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Bill passes House with swipe fee protections intact 

Monday, June 12, 2017 8:52:00 AM

Source: NRA

June 8, 2017

 

The National Restaurant Association celebrated a big victory June 8, as the House of Representatives passed the Financial CHOICE Act with debit swipe fee protections still intact.

 

We waged a comprehensive public affairs campaign leveraging grassroots advocacy, digital advertising, and social and traditional media to express our concerns regarding the repeal of the swipe fee protections with lawmakers. Our effort showed them how financially devastating repeal of the protections would be to our industry as well as other small businesses and consumers nationwide.

 

Keeping the debit swipe fee protections in place means restaurant owners and other small business operators won't face skyrocketing fees every time a customer uses his or her debit card during a transaction.

 

"By keeping debit swipe protections in place, small businesses will not be stuck with a debit card tax on top of their already thin operating margins," said Cicely Simpson, our executive vice president of government affairs and policy.

 

Authored by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, House Financial Services Committee chair, the Financial CHOICE Act seeks to reverse overregulation of the financial services industry. The debit swipe fee protections, also known as the Durbin Amendment, passed in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

 

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Going Out for Lunch Is a Dying Tradition 

Friday, June 02, 2017 11:52:00 AM

Restaurants suffer as people eat at their desks; no more three-martini sit-down meals

 

Source: WSJ

By Julie Jargon

May 30, 2017

 

The U.S. restaurant industry is in a funk. Blame it on lunch.

 

Americans made 433 million fewer trips to restaurants at lunchtime last year, resulting in roughly $3.2 billion in lost business for restaurants, according to market-research firm NPD Group Inc. It was the lowest level of lunch traffic in at least four decades.

 

While that loss in traffic is a 2% decline from 2015, it is a significant one-year drop for an industry that has traditionally relied on lunch and has had little or no growth for a decade.

 

"I put [restaurant] lunch right up there with fax machines and pay phones," said Jim Parks, a 55-year-old sales director who used to dine out for lunch nearly every day but found in recent years that he no longer had room for it in his schedule.

 

Like Mr. Parks, many U.S. workers now see stealing away for an hour at the neighborhood diner in the middle of the day as a luxury. Even the classic "power lunch" is falling out of favor among power brokers.

 

When he isn't on the road for a Detroit-based building products company, Mr. Parks works from his home in Carlisle, Ohio, and eats there. When he meets clients at their offices, they have food delivered and work during what they call a "lunch and learn."

 

Even some restaurant-company executives don't go out for lunch. Employees at Texas Roadhouse Inc.'s Louisville, Ky., headquarters order in so often that they know the delivery drivers by name. "A lot of our folks are trying to be more efficient," company President Scott Colosi said.

 

Lunch should be a break, but that doesn't always happen. So here are a few expert suggestions for your office lunch. Photo: Jeff Bush

Cost is another factor working against eating out for lunch. While restaurants have raised their tabs over the past few years to cope with rising labor costs, the price of food at supermarkets has continued to drop, widening the cost gap between bringing in lunch and eating out.

 

Restaurants are adapting by offering delivery, faster service and smaller portions. But the shift signals trouble for the industry, which makes more money serving meals inside restaurants, where soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, appetizers and desserts boost margins. Maintaining nearly empty dining rooms is costly.

 

Among the hardest hit are casual sit-down restaurants-such as Dine Equity Inc.'s Applebee's and Ruby Tuesday Inc. -because of the time it takes to order, get served and pay. Such establishments last year saw their steepest ever decline in lunch traffic, according to NPD.

 

Even fast-casual chains that cater more to harried customers with counter service instead of wait staff are experiencing slower growth. Lunchtime traffic at those restaurants-excluding Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., which has suffered steep declines in the wake of disease outbreaks-grew 2% last year after posting growth of 5% or higher in each of the prior four years.

 

The pain is spreading to suppliers. Meat giant Tyson Foods Inc. recently said a 29% drop in quarterly earnings was due partly to the decline in restaurant traffic.

 

"Consumers are buying fresh foods, from supermarkets, and eating them at home as a replacement for eating out," Tyson Chief Executive Tom Hayes said.

 

The average price of a restaurant lunch has risen 19.5% to $7.59 since the recession, as rising labor costs pushed owners to raise menu prices-even as the cost of raw ingredients has fallen. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. last year posted the longest stretch of falling grocery prices in more than 50 years.

 

"We believe significant food deflation was the primary culprit behind last year's weakness, favoring food at home pricing over food away from home pricing to a degree not seen outside of the global financial crisis," Sanford Bernstein analyst Sara Senatore said in a recent report on the restaurant industry.

 

More fundamental shifts in consumer behavior also are at play. The share of people doing at least some of their work at home-and who are unlikely to go out and eat-has fluctuated over the years, but was as low as 19% in 2003 and reached a high of 24% in 2015, according to the BLS. And the continued rise of online shopping means fewer trips to the mall-or a stop for a restaurant lunch there. (Read about how people in cities around the world eat lunch.)

 

Despite the traffic decline, dollar sales at lunch were flat last year because of the menu price increases. But restaurants can't raise prices indefinitely. In fact, many now are offering lunch discounts to bring people out to eat.

 

Some lunch specials at casual-dining restaurants cost less than a fast-food meal. Lunch can be had for $6 at Brinker International Inc.'s Chili's Grill & Bar, and for as low as $6.99 at Darden Restaurants Inc.'s Olive Garden.

 

Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão Inc. FOGO -0.36% -where lunch can take two hours and cost up to $34-last year introduced a $15 lunch special of salads, soups, cured meats and stews that can be completed in under an hour.

 

After it saw lunch traffic "fall off" in late 2015, sports-bar chain Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. introduced a cheaper "fast break lunch" menu with smaller portions. Chief Executive Sally Smith said the new menu-and a 15-minute service guarantee-recently helped improve traffic.

 

Many restaurants are restructuring. Cosi Inc., Garden Fresh Corp. and Old Country Buffet owner Buffets Inc. recently have filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Others, like Ruby Tuesday and Famous Dave's of America Inc. DAVE -1.28% have been closing restaurants.

 

Bob Evans Farms Inc. BOBE 0.22% in January sold its struggling restaurant business to private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital. On the same day, Bob Evans announced that its packaged-foods arm was acquiring a potato-processing company in an effort to focus on growing demand for refrigerated side dishes.

 

Josh Benn, managing director at corporate-finance advisory firm Duff & Phelps Corp., said new restaurant concepts, such as those that cater to consumers' desire for faster, healthier food, are on the rise.

 

"I think there's a death and regeneration happening in this whole industry," Mr. Benn said.

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Breaking Down the Latest Nielsen Insights 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 11:41:00 AM

Source: Brewbound

Chris Furnari and Justin Kendall 

May. 25, 2017

 Here's a sobering statistic: One in six neighborhood bars have closed since 2004, according to a new Nielsen CGA report.

 "That's a huge figure," Matthew Crompton, Nielsen CGA associate client director, said during the latest Power Hour presentation, hosted by the Brewers Association.

 Crompton and Nielsen CGA senior vice president Scott Elliott broke down the latest on-premise data, which showed that a staggering 12,766 neighborhood bars have closed over the last 12 years (as of December 2016, Nielsen CGA counted 58,678 neighborhood bars).

 Crompton called it a "long term decline of key drinking channels" and "a hard one to bear" for the beer industry.

 Meanwhile, 60,906 new restaurants have opened in the same time frame, and those outlets aren't necessarily making up for the lost drinking opportunities. Crompton said 52 percent of restaurant-goers reported drinking a beer while out. Conversely, 70 percent of consumers who visited a neighborhood bar had a beer.

 Crompton dug even deeper, noting that the average drinking establishment sells 91 percent more beer than the average restaurant. According to Nielsen, outlets that the research group classifies as "drinking" establishments sell 827 pints per week. "Eating" establishments, however, sell just 434 pints per week.

 Restaurant-goers also appear to be giving up on domestic premium beers, where the biggest disparity between bars (461 pints per week) and restaurants (175 pints per week) is evident. The "high end" beer segment ($25 per case and above) fares much better, however, maintaining velocity of 211 pints per week in bars compared to 179 pints per week in restaurants.

 Imports are driving the on-premise growth of the "high end," despite craft beer accounting for the most volume. High end beer volume performance grew by 2.3 percent during the 52-week period ending February 25. Meanwhile, non-high end beer volumes declined 6.3 percent, driven by poor domestic premium sales.

 Not surprisingly, the largest and most established brands were the hardest hit. Beer's top 10 brand volumes declined 3.3 percent. Similarly, volume sales for the top 10 craft brands declined 3.4 percent on-premise. Meanwhile, the "long tail" of craft brands grew 2.5 percent, Elliott said.

 "This presents a great opportunity for craft brands to come in and get a part of it," he added. "But where the real challenge is, is sustaining that growth and making sure people stick with you."

 Want further proof that brands near the end of the long tail are performing well on-premise? Dollar sales for the newest breweries grew 5.9 percent, according to Nielsen, while sales of maturing brands grew 1.3 percent over the last 52 weeks. However, established brands struggled, as dollar sales declined 2.1 percent.

 "When you are small and when you are new, the growth is there," Elliott said. "The real challenge comes when you want to mature and you want to establish."

 Additionally, sales of draft craft beer is driving category growth, accounting for 84 percent of all craft sales, Elliott said. On-premise sales of packaged craft beer declined 8.8 percent during the same period, however.

 Elliott credited the experience of getting a draft beer, which most people cannot replicate at home, along with quality and price for driving the growth. Nevertheless, he stressed the importance of providing a quality draft beer experience.

 "It's all about getting the right distribution for your draft brands, not just getting distribution," Elliott said.

 Other key takeaways included:

 Craft beer consumers are willing to pay more: A Nielsen CGA survey found that craft beer drinkers are willing to pay more than they are being charged for 12 oz. bottles ($5.73 vs. $4.60/bottle) and 16 oz. draft beer ($6.35 vs. $5.30).

 "Especially in the larger markets, the more mainstream accounts, there is perhaps an area there where the craft prices could be increased," Elliott said.

 Millennials are finding different places to drink beer: 23 percent of millennials surveyed said they visited a brewpub or taproom; 13 percent said they visited a "grocer-aunt"; 12 percent took a brewery tour; and 25 percent visited a "premium bar."

 Millennials are also making more purchases in so called "third space channels," which include sporting events, music festivals and tasting rooms. Millennials made 23 percent of the craft beer purchases and 23 percent of the import buys outside of the off-premise and on-premise channels, according to Crompton.

 Nielsen CGA asked consumers what is and isn't craft: Consumers polled said beer with "unique flavor" and "high quality ingredients" that isn't mass produced is what they considered to be craft beer. What isn't craft? A beer that is "mass-manufactured" by a "large company" and lacks taste and flavor.

 Consumers are "sophisticated, promiscuous and have an unprecedented demand for choice": High end beer drinkers have about 26 go-to brands. On a night out, 27 percent of consumers drink two or more categories; 39 percent of consumers drink two or more beers; and 8 percent of millennials only drink beer. In contrast, 31 percent of 55-year-old drinkers only drink beer.

 "The days of being a beer guy, like my father was and many other people's fathers were, where they just drink beer, those days are long gone," Elliott said. "Keeping people within your category, let alone your brand portfolio, has never been harder, and it will only get more difficult."

 Women still don't drink as much as men: Nearly 25 percent of 21 to 25-year-old women haven't been out for a drink in the last three months. Forty-four percent of women surveyed said they drink beer in on-premise situations, compared to 63 percent of men. Additionally, 40 percent of women surveyed said they drink cocktails in on-premise environments, versus 19 percent of men.

 Danny Brager, the senior vice president of Nielsen's beverage alcohol practice, also shared a variety of recent trends during last week's Beer Marketer's Insights seminar in Chicago.

 The presentation highlighted a number of big picture takeaways, including the following insights:

 Overall per capita drinking volume is flat, but beer is losing share to wine and spirits: According to Brager - who cited data from the Beer Institute, National Beer Wholesalers Association, the Distilled Spirits Council and BIG - beer accounted for 58 percent of "share of servings" in 2003, a figure that has dwindled to just 50 percent as of last year. During that same period, wine's share of servings grew from 14 percent to 18 percent while spirits' share of servings grew from 28 percent to 32 percent.

 Beer Volumes are in decline: According to Nielsen data through April 22, 2017, off-premise volume sales of beer are down 0.2 percent while sales of wine are up 1.5 percent and spirits are up 2 percent. On-premise, it's a similar story. Volume sales of beer are down 1.9 percent while volume sales of wine are up 1.2 percent and sales of spirits are up 1.4 percent.

 Consumers spend $234 billion on alcohol: Beer is competing for attention both on- and off-premise. According to a 2016 Nielsen Homescan, 74 percent of spirits buyers also buy beer while shopping off-premise. Meanwhile, 63 percent of beer buyers also buy wine - compared to just 47 percent that purchase spirits. Also, during a typical night out, half of millennial drinkers (ages 21-34) drink across two or more beverage alcohol categories.

 Consumers are confused: According to a 2016 Nielsen study, 24 percent of shoppers do not know what drink category they'll buy from before entering off-premise retail stores. Meanwhile, 29 percent of consumers do not know what drink they'll purchase before entering on-premise establishments. At a company level, 72 percent of shoppers don't know what brand of beer they'll purchase before entering off-premise retail shops while 75 percent don't know what brand they'll buy on-premise.

 High End growth opportunities still abound: On average, beer that sells for less than $25 per case still accounts for 54 percent of category dollars and two-thirds of volume. In convenience stores, where as much as $18 billion of beer sales occur, 64 percent of the dollars are from non-high end brands. In contrast, non-high end brands account for just 43 percent of dollar sales in food stores, according to 52-week Nielsen all channel data through April 22, 2017.

 Not all millennial consumers are created equal: More than 30 percent of the alcohol consumed by those ages 21-34 is beer, more than wine and spirits, according to Nielsen. In contrast, about 45 percent of alcohol consumed by those ages 55 and above is wine. Brager argued that the younger generation is "critical" to beer, but their incomes could also dictate what types of alcohol they are able to afford. 54.4 percent of millennial drinkers make less than $50,000 annually, according to Nielsen statistics from 2015. Just 15.4 percent, however, earn more than $100,000 annually and Brager contends that these two groups will consume alcohol differently.

 According to Nielsen Scarborough data collected between 2015 and 2016, millennial consumers making less than $50,000 per year indexed significantly lower (61) than those earning over $100,000 (160) when asked if they drank craft beer during a prior 30 day period. In other words, older millennials are "more inclined to trade up," Brager shared. 56 percent of "older" millennials said they were "extremely likely" to purchase a premium craft brand, compared to just 49 percent of younger millennials.

 

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5 reasons independent restaurants are winning 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 11:39:00 AM

Blog: Profit pressures on big chains and a consumer thirst for local help independents win over dine-in customers

Source: NRN

Jonathan Maze

May 25, 2017

 Traffic at restaurant chains has been increasingly problematic in recent years, and has fallen at least 4.2 percent on a two-year basis in four of the past five months, according to MillerPulse.

 One reason for the decline is that consumers are broadening their spending, especially at dine-in concepts where prices are higher.

 The beneficiary of this is the independent restaurant. As my colleague Lisa Jennings reported last week, independents are expected to gain market share in the coming years, and will grow at a higher rate.

 To be sure, it's difficult to truly get a handle on shifts in the independent market, and there's some disagreement among experts as to whether independents are really gaining market share.

 But there are five reasons why I think independents can get a leg up on chains for the first time in many years:

 1. Younger people like local. This cannot be emphasized enough. Large chains can tout their local ingredients all they want, but they will have only so much credibility with consumers. Independents have no such problem. "Millennials are the largest customer base out there," small business advocate Rhonda Abrams said at the NRA Show, "and they like to shop local."

 2. Chain profit pressures. If chains are losing share, a lot of it is their own doing. Over the past decade, many chains have relied on discounts and lower-cost items to get customers in the door. But they've also faced higher food and labor costs in the process. So what to they do? Cut food quality, portion sizes or service. And the worst ones delay maintenance on buildings. Consumers notice these issues over time, and they opt to go elsewhere.

 3. Television. I have a confession: My family loves watching "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on Food Network, so much so that we will routinely seek out restaurants in Minnesota that the show features. There are countless other shows on Food Network, Cooking Channel and other channels highlighting interesting local restaurants. Much like HGTV has impacted the way consumers buy houses, Food Network has impacted the way diners pick restaurants.

 4. Delivery. Consumers clearly want food to be delivered directly to them. It's the biggest single trend in the industry, and every decent executive in the business is at least studying the issue. But I still say that delivery favors the independent restaurant. Diners have demonstrated a willingness to pay higher prices for local cuisine. And delivery wipes out the convenience advantage that many chains enjoy, particularly in the casual-dining segment.

 5. Social media. Ratings services and social media word-of-mouth advertising are erasing the messaging advantage that chains have historically boasted. Reviews on Google and Yelp remove the risk factor associated with picking an unknown local restaurant. Social media spreads the word about these restaurants more efficiently. Abrams highlighted a number of strategies innovative local concepts have used to get nearby customers to come to in their doors using Facebook.

 None of this is to say that chains can't gain market share. They can, as Olive Garden, Dave & Buster's and Texas Roadhouse can attest. But general trends suggest that independents have advantages in the battle over the consumer dollar that they haven't had since, well, ever.

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