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Issue Date: Vol. 52, No. 12, December 2012, Posted On: 11/21/2012

After-Work Tavern Tradition Fades

Marcus Webb
TAGS: tavern declines, tavern trends, bar trends, on-premise beer consumption, Chris Thorne, Beer Institute, jukebox, coin machine location, coin-op news, John Gurda, smoking ban, tavern and bar traffic

WASHINGTON -- On-premise beer consumption in the U.S. has dropped 5% since 2008 as fewer workers stop by taverns for a drink after their shift, said Chris Thorne, vice-president of communications at the Beer Institute.

High-end beer sales have grown 14% during the same period. The falloff has come on the low-cost end of the market. Meanwhile, more consumers are buying beer in c-stores for consumption at home, said the institute.

Several factors have conspired to depress after-work, on-premise consumption, according to a recent report by Reuters.

The so-called "Great Recession" has cut manufacturing jobs, resulting in less traffic in neighborhood bars. More focus on healthy living, shifting social attitudes toward drinking and tough DUI laws have also contributed to the trend. Smoking bans are another strong contributing factor.

Reuters quoted historian John Gurda as saying the after-work tavern habit may be weaker, but it is "far from gone." Gurda described bars, taverns and saloons as traditionally serving as "the communal living rooms" of industrial Midwestern cities like Milwaukee.

"In many neighborhoods, that's still very much the case," Gurda said.

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