Calgary

Alcohol sales reach record level in Alberta with 6% spike

Albertans are drinking more booze than ever before, the latest data from Statistics Canada reveals.

Sales at liquor stores and other outlets jumped to $2.5B

Beer sales totalled $1.1 billion, accounting for 43 per cent of alcohol sales in Alberta, up about five per cent from the previous year. (iStock)

Albertans are drinking more booze than ever before, the latest data from Statistics Canada reveals.

Liquor stores in Alberta sold $2.5 billion worth of alcohol in 2014-2015 — a six-per-cent increase from the year before.

It was also the largest yearly increase of any other province, according to ATB Financial economists Todd Hirsch and Nick Ford.

"In 2014 the economy was still doing well and I think that led to a big jump of sales," Hirsch said.

"My guess is once we see the numbers for 2016, however, we might start to see some pullback. We know in mid-2015, that's when the downturn really started to affect employment income."

Last year beer sales totalled $1.1 billion, accounting for 43 per cent of alcohol sales in Alberta, up about five per cent from the previous year.

"Not surprisingly, beer remained the most popular adult beverage in Alberta last year," Hirsch and Ford wrote.

Proportionally, wine sales stayed about the same, accounting for about 22 per cent of the alcohol market in Alberta.

It seems Albertans have been buying fancier vintages, at least until the downturn hit. Wine sales jumped almost 10 per cent to $566 million last year, despite not growing as a share of total alcohol sold.

But Jasvinder Kullar, who owns BK Liquor in northwest Calgary, says he has seen a 20-per-cent drop in business from last year.

"Because the liquor prices, the wholesale prices go up, and people are buying more and more the cheaper product. It's not that they're not drinking, they do drink, but they move to the lower brand," he said.

 

Wines sales up across Canada

Nationally, liquor sales were up 3.8 per cent during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, according to Statistics Canada.

"Beer remained the alcoholic drink of choice for Canadians, with $9.0 billion in sales, accounting for 42 per cent of total sales in 2014-2015," Statistics Canada said in a release.

"However, the market share of other alcoholic beverages continued to grow."

A decade ago, beer sales accounted for about 48 per cent of the market, while wine represented 26 per cent of alcohol sales.

By 2014-2015, beer sales had dipped to 42 per cent and wine sales were up to 31 per cent.

"Liquor stores, agencies and other retail outlets sold $6.7 billion worth of wine during the year ending March 31, 2015, up 5.1 per cent from the previous year," the release said.

Wine is most popular in Quebec, where it represents over 43 per cent of alcohol sales.

Imported red wine accounted for more than three-quarters of all the wine sold in Canada in the past year, a statistic that has held steady for the past decade.

In the beer market, imported brands have been steadily gaining ground in Canada. Over the last 10 years, imported beer sales have increased six per cent a year on average, compared to 1.1 per cent for domestic suds.

Per capita spending varies widely 

Canadians spend about $595 per capita per year. People living in the Northwest Territories and Yukon have the highest per capita booze bills, at $1,092 and $954 respectively.

Prince Edward Island has the lowest per capita spending on alcohol, at $479.

Per capita spending on alcohol in other provinces:

  • Alberta: $605
  • Ontario: $544
  • Quebec: $636
  • British Columbia: $660
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: $839
  • Nova Scotia: $627

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