Recession-strapped Americans are hitting the bar less and less, but they’re not giving up drinking: sales of beer and wine at grocery and convenience stores have ballooned, prompting many shops to start offering alcohol. Between September 2008 and last month, the number of stores selling beer shot up by 2,600—even though the overall number of grocery, convenience, and drug stores fell by 3,000.
Wine wholesalers have seen business shift from their hard-hit restaurant and bar clients to a new crop of stores—among them chains such as Walgreens and Family Dollar—that had previously spurned alcohol. Cheap drinks are a fairly sure bet in an uncertain climate: alcohol “"isn't recession-proof, but it is somewhat recession-resilient," says a beverage exec. "When times are good, people drink. When times are bad, people also drink."