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Bartender Optimism

August 6, 2012 By: Donna Hood Crecca


A barometer I’ve always found particularly telling about the state of the drinks business is the individuals on the front lines, the bartenders. Those working behind the stick interact directly with the consumer, see who’s coming in the door, what’s going across the bar and know what’s in the tip jar and the register -- all in real time.

Our recent BarTrender survey reveals that bartenders saw business settling back into normal patterns in the second quarter of this year. What’s more, two-thirds expect business to improve in the next six months.

Just over half of the 515 bartenders queried in our online survey described business conditions as average and one-third reported them as better than average during quarter two. The group that reported the most positive signs of improvement was bartenders in upscale/fine-dining establishments. Two-thirds said business conditions were above average, three-quarters cited increased traffic and nearly two-thirds stated that sales of spirits, wine and beer were significantly better than 12 months ago. Upscale/fine-dining venue bartenders were also most bullish on the prospects for the business in the next six months.  

As for casual dining, one-third of bartenders reported above average business conditions in quarter two, and just shy of two-thirds indicated business is average. Looking ahead, just over half anticipate business to remain the same, while 45% of casual dining bartenders expect improvement.

Technomic’s industry forecasts call for a 4.3% increase in spending on adult beverage in foodservice channels this year, and continued growth in 2013. Challenges do exist to maintaining the momentum that bartenders are reporting and realizing those gains – mostly in the form of rising gas prices that are predicted as a result of the corn shortage and lingering uncertainty in consumer confidence. As always, operators who strategically promote beverage as a point of differentiation will likely ride the wave successfully. 

How do you rate current business conditions at your establishment? (All segments)

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Source: Technomic Inc.


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