In a development that would seem to bode well for the annual Reuters holiday party, Reuters cheerfully reports today that “a pullback in U.S. consumer spending should not dampen holiday parties or sales of distilled spirits in the liquor industry’s biggest season, executives of several companies said this week.”
Executives of which companies, exactly? Executives of Brown-Forman Corp. (Jack Daniel), Diageo Plc. (Smirnoff, Johnny Walker, Tanqueray), Pernod Ricard, and Fortune Brands Inc. (Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam).
Every autumn comes interested industry parties predicting strong holiday sales — and reporters who find such forecasts newsworthy. In this case, however, liquor execs appear to be going way out on a limb to predict that they will still peddle plenty of joy juice this holiday season, flagging economy or no.
Might consumers even turn to the bottle more frequently in a slumping economy? This is what one executive seemed to be getting at when he explained to Reuters that spirits are an “ ‘affordable indulgence,’ even when times are tough” and “ ‘given all the pressures and all the stuff you read in the press about this horrible consumer slowdown and how times are getting tougher,’ consumers sometimes feel that they deserve to splurge on a bottle of their favorite spirit.” Bill Samuels, president of Fortune Brands’ whiskey Maker’s Mark, added that “the holidays always boost sales and that this year was shaping up similarly.” All executive-speak for: Consumers faithfully hit the sauce during the holidays — even more so when they can’t afford a tank of gas or a new home.
Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.