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Drinking Habits Hardly Change in Eight Decades

Bartender with drinks

August 28, 2023 – Bob Dylan’s classic protest song, “The Times They Are a-Changin” seems as apt today as it did in 1964, but one thing that has stayed constant is the percentage of people in this country who drink alcohol and the number who don’t.  It’s been pretty much a two-thirds/one third split since 1939.

Gallup’s latest Consumption Habits poll confirms that 62% of Americans imbibe.  Back in 1939 it was 63%.  According to their records, there was a short period in 1974 to 1981 when the number of drinkers rose to 71%.

The poll has a trove of other information of interest to the makers, marketers, and sellers of beverage alcohol.  Beer still remains America’s favorite beverage while spirits and wine battle for second place.  Women prefer wine.  Younger drinkers favor beer and liquor; older drinkers prefer beer and wine.  Wine was well ahead of liquor from the early 90s to about 2018 but liquor has closed the gap and is now at 30% and on a par with wine.  Consumers with higher incomes drink more of everything, which isn’t surprising especially with the cost of living these days.

The four in 10 who don’t drink cite various reasons such as having no interest in doing so; they feel it is unhealthy, don’t like it, have health reasons or it is against their religious beliefs.  Apparently some things never change and that might be something to celebrate.

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