Friday, February 12, 2010

So How Is The Recession Affecting America's Drinking Habits?

There was an article in the San Antonio Express-News last week called Recession enough to drive a liquor salesman to drink. Apparently people are still drinking, but cheaper brands and they are not drinking high-end beverages in restaurants as much as they were a few years ago.
"San Antonians' love for fiestas hasn't abated — in fact, the March issue of Men's Health magazine ranks San Antonio the seventh drunkest city in the country. But as we've been hammered by the recession, we're cutting back on premium liquors and drinking more cheap booze."
Sounds like what we call inferior goods in economics. The things you buy more of when your income falls (as it does in recessions). Not sure if this really fits the definition because what people are doing when they switch to a cheaper brand is just that they purchasing less quality. Suppose you could measure the quality of, say, vodka (which they discuss in the article), and you could attach quality units to different brands. If you switch to a cheaper brand, you are just buying a lower number of "quality units."

It is like you still go to baseball games or Spurs games but you buy cheaper seats. So a lesser brand may not necessarily be an inferior good. But, by making more meals at home and drinking there, that could be an inferior good since you don't go to restaurants as much. People are buying more margarita mixes, for example because they are not going to restaurants as much. So maybe the margarita mixes are an inferior good.

Finally, the article quoted the chief economist of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Talk about a dream job.

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