3 in 10 Americans Drink Weekly

April 6, 2011

harris-us-alcohol-consumption-apr11.gifThree in 10 Americans 21 and older (29%) say they drink alcohol at least once a week, including 5% who drink daily and 10% who drink several times a week, according to results of a new Harris Poll. In addition, poll results show one in five Americans 21 or older (20%) say they drink alcohol at least once a month and 15% drink it several times a year.

1 in 5 Don’t Drink, Men Drink More

Another one in five Americans (22%) say they never drink alcohol, and men are more frequent drinkers than women are, as almost two in five men (38%) say they drink at least once a week compared to 21% of women.

Older Drinkers Most Likely to Drink Daily

The poll presents interesting findings regarding drinking habits by generation. Overall, younger adults are more likely to say they drink at least once a week, with 33% of Echo Boomers (age 21-34) but only 26% of Matures (66 and older) doing so. However, Matures have the highest rate of drinking daily (11%), roughly double the 5% rate of Baby Boomers (age 47-65) and almost quadruple the 4% rate of both Echo Boomers and Gen X (age 35-46).

Looking at rates of abstaining from drinking alcohol by age, members of Gen X are least likely to abstain completely (18%), compared to the 27% highest rate held by Matures. Echo Boomers are actually slightly more likely to be teetotalers (23%) than Baby Boomers (22%).

Beer Loses Popularity Since ’09, Other Beverages Gain

harris-what-people-drink-apr-2011.JPGBeer is the most frequently consumed alcoholic beverage in 2011, with 63% of drinking adults saying they consume beer. However, this rate is about 6% lower than the 67% of drinking adults who consumed beer in 2009, when it was also America’s leading alcoholic beverage. Beer also has a sizable gender gap, as it is consumed by 75% of male adult drinkers but only 50% of female adult drinkers.

Meanwhile, domestic wine significantly grew in its consumption rate, rising 10% from 49% in 2009 to 54% in 2011. Domestic wine has an inverse gender gap to beer, being consumed by 63% of female adult drinkers but only 45% of male adult drinkers.

Tequila and cordials/liqueurs also gained popularity since 2009, while Scotch lost a small amount.

Whiskies, Champagne Have Gender Gaps

Other beverages with significant gender gaps include bourbon (consumed by 23% of male drinkers and 6% of female drinkers), Scotch (consumed by 17% of male drinkers and 4% of female drinkers), and champagne (consumed by 23% of female drinkers and 13% of male drinkers).

Americans Drink More Wine

Overall US wine consumption rose 0.8% to 297 million nine-liter cases in 2009, according to August 2010 data from the Beverage Information Group. 2009 marked the 16th straight year of increased wine case consumption in the US. According to the Beverage Information Group’s 2010 Wine Handbook, domestics continue to outpace imports. Domestic wines rose 1.8% to 222.7 million cases, while imports dropped 2.2%, landing at 74.3 million cases. However, growth is still being seen among smaller countries such as Chile, New Zealand and Portugal.

US wine consumption is expected to increase 4.6% to 310.7 million cases by 2014.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US between March 7 to 14, 2011 among 2,379 adults (aged 18 and older), of whom 2,300 were 21 years old or older. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.


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