Beer on the Run
According to a small article by Nate Silver, the market for beer has gone down dramatically. During the fourth quarter of last year, sales of the delicious alcohol plummeted by nearly ten percent. Although percentage wise it does not seem like much, the fact that this statistic is so confounding is that since 1959, the worst percentage the beer industry has dropped is 3.7 percent. Although sales of wines and spirits went down during the last quarter as well, both only decreased by a much smaller margin, no bigger than two percent.
On top of alcohol sales, other valuable goods have decreased over the previous quarter. Jewelry and watches dropped over seven percent, the third largest drop ever recorded. Casino receipts have tumbled down eight and a half percent from last year, the biggest four quarter decrease ever. However, if one industry prevailed during the lavish fourth quarter, it would be the movie industry with a sales increase of almost 11 percent.
Of course the question still remains: Why does anyone care? So what if people aren’t spending their money getting drunk or bowing off their paycheck getting the big bucks. For beer at least, there has been a noticeable shortage of hops since 2007 which raises the price of beer in an era where the economy has gone belly up. Other people, like Silvers, think that drinkers have switched to imported beers like Alpha King or Dogfish Head, maybe as a result of being unpatriotic as Silvers argues. Imported beers such as these are known as microbrews which is a very cheap kind of beer. Basically, when the economy goes down like it has for the past few months, luxury items like beer or jewelry and watches become less desirable and cheap stuff like the microbrews have increases in sales. One could suppose that movies continue to rise is that it’s still a cheap way to get entertainment. People can go to new movies that cost as much as two dollars.
Many believe that this has to do with the weakening economy. This reason makes sense because almost every possible good has diminished in sales. Since the economy has pretty much gone down the toilet, everyone has become more careful with their money. Within being careful with their money, they are forced to make sacrifices such drinking water instead of beer or perhaps spending a girlfriend’s birthday at the movies instead of buying some jewelry. In my experience, my parents have been forced to shop at places like Costco where they can buy a lot for very little. I myself have gone to great lengths to reduce my costs whether it be not going out to eat and eating at the dorm hall to wearing the same shoes for the past three years.
Nevertheless, there’s still the reason of why movies have still profited from this abysmal time? Silver says that “movies are not typically seen as extravagant. You don’t feel guilty after purchasing a movie ticket, you feel kind of wholesome”. The fact that drinking beer or gambling may be a sin to some, those same people consider movies to be sort of family event. At the end of the article, Silver suggests that this incident could be classified as weberian. That term refers to a book written by economist and sociologist Max Weber who wrote many essays saying that capitalism was developed by Protestants who got many people to work in their companies and create enterprises and take part in trade to gain wealth.
Even in other places like the United Kingdom, people have noticed significant decreases in beer sales. Although they too are being affected by the economic problems in the United States, they also have a big beer tax of nine percent that was added last year. Thanks to this new tax, beer sales in pubs went down over eight percent and also went down six percent in the supermarkets during the third quarter. According to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) president Rob Hayward there have been averaging about five pubs shutting down each day. Another reason for this problem in the U.K. is the market for alcoholic beverages. They have more kinds of beer, wines and even cider being sold in pubs and clubs. Unlike the U.S., however, the U.K. has had a drop of beer sales since 2005 and even a pretty good variation of sales since 1997.
As the economy gets worse, it seems that this problem may continue to escalade unless Obama can think of a good plan to go with. But for now, the world can use a bit of soberness right now.