Americans consider it their patriotic duty to drink on Memorial Day weekend -- a lot. Beer sales spiked 16% during the two weeks surrounding the holiday last year, according to Nielsen. Only the Fourth of July ranks higher than Memorial Day as the top holiday for beer sales, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association, which notes that beer sales in the summer months are 20% higher than other months. But as the temperature rises, so does the competition as beer, wine and liquor purveyors battle for dollars from increasingly fickle drinkers. Below, a look at some key alcohol trends, courtesy of some recent Nielsen reports.
Beer keeps losing, but pricey brews holding their own
Is Joe Sixpack a dying breed? Beer's share of the alcohol market fell from 58% in 2003 to 50% last year on a share of servings basis, as wine grew from 14% to 18% and spirits jumped from 28% to 32%. For beer, it's a tale of two segments: Premium beers continue to grow as cheaper beers decline. That's not good news for volume, but better for profits because high-end brands typically earn better margins.
Life's a beach for growing canned wine segment