From the Chicago Tribune:
Though beer is still the country's best-selling alcoholic beverage, more Americans are finding that suds are somewhat flat.
Liquor and wine continued to eat away at beer's commanding share of U.S. alcohol sales in 2011, according to an annual report issued Monday by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
The trade group pointed to a surge in exports, improved marketing support, legalization of Sunday liquor sales, new flavors and an improving economy, among other factors, that fueled a 4 percent increase in liquor sales, to $19.92 billion.
Liquor now comprises 33.6 percent of alcohol sales, wine accounts for 17.1 percent and beer has 49.2 percent of the $59.24 billion alcohol industry. The data represents sales by manufacturers and importers, not retail sales. Aside from modest growth in 2008, beer has lost market share to liquor for each of the last 13 years.
Still, the beer industry argues that liquor's growth has been slow, while a retailer said that craft beer presents a potential threat to liquor and wine as it woos customers away.
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