CA Diners Cutting Back on Alcohol

FILED SEPTEMBER 1, 2009

Dear Client:

Findings of the Zagat 2010 Los Angeles/Southern California and San Francisco Bay Area restaurants surveys were released this week and support what everyone is already saying about soft on-premise sales. We know that California has been especially hard hit by the recession and diners from both cities agree it’s taken a considerable toll on their dining out habits. One trend we see in both cities is that consumers are cutting back on alcohol to save money instead of viewing it as a healthy addition to their meal. However, they’re still going out to eat and increasingly taking advantage of deals offered by restaurants, which is also a great way for wholesalers to push their wine and spirits.

LOS ANGELES. For example, 48% of surveyors reported that they are dining out less; 42% say they are frequenting less expensive places; 22% are skipping appetizers and/or dessert; 19% are cutting back on alcohol, and 7% are shifting from bottled water to tap water to save money. Confirming this change the number of meals out per week eaten by Zagat Surveyors dropped from 3.7 last year to 3.4 this year.

As a result, restaurants are offering better deals and perhaps even better service. 55% of surveyors report finding better deals at restaurants; 42% feel their patronage is more appreciated, 36% say getting a table at popular places is easier; 22% say that service has improved and 20% say ironically they are eating healthier as a result of cutting back on alcohol and rich foods

“The economic downturn has definitely affected Los Angeles diners. Quite simply, they are being more careful with their money,” said Tim Zagat, chief and co-founder of Zagat Survey. “The good news is that diners still take out or eat out almost half of their meals, indicating that restaurants are still a vital part of everyday life, even in these difficult times.”

SAN FRANCISCO dining has also been hurt by the recession but these consumers are more concerned about green initiatives and supporting worker healthcare and wages. Surveyors said they are dining out less (52%), eating in less expensive places (42%), being more attentive to prices (42%), cutting back on alcohol (20%), appetizers and/or desserts (21%). Diners (5%) are also switching to tap/filtered water to save money. They are so price-sensitive that the percentage who list price as their main complaint has jumped to 10%, up from 6% last year. That's not surprising since San Francisco ranks among the nation's most expensive dining cities, with an average meal cost of $39.40, compared to the $34.54 national average.

Like LA, San Francisco restaurants “have been going to great lengths to hang on to their clientele,” said Zagat. Many restaurants are offering bargain deals and 62% of diners say they are taking advantage of these opportunities; 40% say they feel their patronage is appreciated more; and 36% find it easier to obtain hard-to-get reservations. Despite their financial concerns, San Franciscans by a 73% vote consider green issues (organic, sustainably raised, locally grown products) to be as important as ever, along with healthy menus by a 70% margin. Finally, 61% say they're still willing to pay even higher tabs to support worker healthcare and wages.

B-F RANKED THIRD MOST “GREEN” US BEVERAGE COMPANY

Brown-Forman was ranked #3 on a list of “greenest” US beverage companies by Newsweek magazine, with Coca-Cola Enterprises and the Coca-Cola Co taking the top two spots. This marks Newsweek’s first “Green Rankings” in which the magazine ranked the top 500 American companies based on their use of resources, emissions, policies and strategies and reputation among peers. Out of the total 500 companies, B-F ranked 63rd. “Our experience demonstrates that progressive environmental programs can contribute to solid long-term financial results,” said B-F vice chairman Jim Welch.

LATEST APPOINTMENTS AT WIRTZ

Wirtz has appointed David Scott to general manger of wine for Wirtz Beverage Nevada and David Duncan to direct of sales, wines for Wirtz Beverage Minnesota. Previously, David Scott was General Manager of the Micro Cru fine wine division in Nevada, and David Duncan was a sales executive at Delicato Family Vineyards.


Until Monday, Megan

“Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain.”
John F. Kennedy

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