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US becomes less uptight about booze sales

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liquor sales An annual report released Tuesday by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) notes that the country is rapidly reversing laws imposing restrictions on the sale of alcohol, particularly on Sundays. Indeed, since 2002, 16 states have approved Sunday sales, bringing the total to 39, according to the organization.

Additionally, more states are permitting in-store tastings of spirits -- up to 44 as of 2013, the group says. And the restriction on alcohol sales on Election Day -- a practice that dates back to an era when saloons often doubled as polling stations, is almost a complete relic. Last year, Kentucky became the 49th state to reverse the Election Day ban, leaving South Carolina as the final holdout.

"The last vestiges of Prohibition are going away," says DISCUS chief executive Peter H. Cressy.

The group says the reversing of bans is proving to be a key factor behind the growth of the booze biz. Spirits sales (as measured at the supplier level) increased by 4.4 percent in 2013 to $22.2 billion.

Of course, other factors contribute to the sales trend, including the surging popularity of American whiskey, especially bourbon (a category that grew by 10.2 percent to $2.4 billion in 2013, according to the report). Additionally, spirits are benefiting from a sales decline in other alcoholic beverages, especially beer.


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