Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 24th 2015 Contents A8
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt January 24, 2016
Alcohol---both in T&T and the
United States of America---contin-
ues to be one of the biggest sellers
during a recession.
However, while many alcohol
lovers may not be able to buy pre-
mium drinks because of the eco-
nomic downswing, they are now
gravitating towards cheaper alcoholic
beverages to satisfy their drinking
This change in the consumers
buying pattern is beginning to affect
many businesses, since it has been
cutting into their profit margins as
they try to survive in the midst of
an economic downturn.
On February 1, the price of alco-
holic beverages will be slashed from
15 to 12.5 per cent.
When T&T faced its last recession
in 2008, many businesses that rely
on the alcohol industry saw little
interruption in sales at bars, restau-
rants, hotels, liquor stores and pubs.
Similarly, CNN Money also
reported five years ago that America s
alcohol sales thrived during its 2011
recession and stagnant job market
because people drank even when
they were broke.
The report showed that alcoholic
beverage sales for that period grew
by nearly ten per cent even though
the average unemployment rate dur-
ing that time exceeded 9.3 per cent.
The report explained that alcohol
sales rise during recessions and
other economic downturns, espe-
cially when there is rising unem-
ployment, stagnant wages, and
higher cost of living.
Also, people generally drink when
they are depressed, upset or suffering
a personal problem.
In the US, alcohol sales amount
to $90 billion per year.
While T&T has no reported figure
of alcohol sales, last July the Pan
American/World Health Organisa-
tion reported that our country had
the highest rates of alcohol con-
sumption in the Americas.
Having worked in a local rum
manufacturing company, a source
who requested anonymity said dur-
ing a recession some consumers
refuse to compromise on their alco-
"What they will do is consume
less but stay with the brands that
they prefer. In other words, a con-
sumer who drinks Stag will not go
to a lower priced beer because he
does not want to be associated with
a cheaper brand. Depending on the
consumer s disposable income he
would stay with the brand that he
likes, but he will drink less. Similarly,
a person who drinks Carib and Stag,
would gravitate to a brand called
Polar, which has a good taste but a
He recalled that in 2008 there was
an influx of cheap scotch whisky on
Among the cheap brands that sold
was Mac Arthur s scotch whisky dis-
tributed by T&T Import and Export.
Consumers also gravitated to buy-
ing inexpensive jug-wine exceeding
In the case of rum, an individual
who drank Single Barrel rum
switched to Black Label.
While the person who consumed
Black Label purchased a less costly
Charles: Premium brands
might suffer a bit
Jason Charles, group product
manager of one of the country s
largest suppliers of premium bev-
erages, AS Brydens and Sons, said
during the country s last recession
consumers maintained their drinking
"The overall consumption does
not change. During a recession peo-
ple tend to gravitate towards lower-
end brands so they would possibly
drink more rum and beers. So pre-
mium brands might suffer a bit."
He said in good times, people tend
to drink high-priced drinks. How-
ever, when there is a decrease in
economic activity alcohol lovers con-
sume less costly drinks.
Some of the premium drinks AS
Brydens sells are Johnnie Walker,
Baileys, Moet Hennessy, Smirnoff,
and Moet and Chandon.
Singh: Less profit selling beers
Owner of Singh s Liquor Mart in
St James, Goutam Singh, said since
before Christmas his customers have
been buying cheaper drinks, in par-
ticular beers, which had seen a spike
"To buy they will buy. But they
are not going for the exclusive drinks
and this has been happening since
In 2008, Singh said, business
sales were normal, "I don t think we
faced a recession. Sales of alcohol
were not adversely affected."
Singh said if beers continued to
be the top seller in 2016, this would
cut into his profit margin.
"When you sell the expensive
drinks this is where you make the
bulk of your money. This is where
liquor shops will take a beating in
this hard time."
Jhallo: Consumers watching
Soul Jhallo, of Jhallo s Liquor Mart
in San Juan, said following the
announcement of the recession last
month, sales of exclusive drinks took
a nose dive.
She said only a few customers were
selecting expensive drinks, while
those who bought the cheaper end
drinks were watching their spend-
ing.Singh also observed that people s
drinking habits were changing.
"Everybody looking at their dollar.
Customers not buying the top of the
line drinks as before. They are leaning
towards drinks that are lower-priced
like beer and rum."
Singh: Consumers buying
patterns are changing
Employee of Pasea Liquor Mart,
Tunapuna, Elizabeth Singh, admitted
that in the last two months people s
buying patterns had changed.
She said customers were moving
away from purchasing high-end
brands such as Johnnie Walker, Jack
Daniel and Hennessy.
"Their choice of drinks now is
beers, rum and puncheon. People
are going for cheaper drinks as they
watch their spending in this reces-
In a bid to grab sales, Singh said
they slashed the price of Angostura s
White Oak rum from $85 to $80
which customers have been lapping
up.Singh painted a picture of doom
and gloom in 2016 for liquor shops,
bars, pubs, hotels and restaurants
which rely heavily on alcohol sales
to generate income.
She said another setback was the
heavy taxes business owners would
have to pay through the Business
Levy and Green Fund Levy.
"This will take away from our
Chang: Trinis will not go off
their rum during a recession
Andrew Chang, manager of Chang
Brother Liquor Store in Marabella,
said when people were depressed
they turned to alcohol to drown their
worries and stress.
Continues on Page A12
Alcohol sales going strong
...cheaper brands more popular, premium
drinks to take a hit during recession
Some friends having a drink
at Mannie & Cuzz Bar in
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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