Analysis: liquor store sales data reveals the biggest drinking days of the year

The holiday season is upon us, which means Americans will be doing lots of shopping, eating, and drinking. As we’ve written recently, Thanksgiving Eve is quickly becoming one of the biggest days of the year for local bars and lounges. And there’s little doubt that millions of holiday feasts will come complete with plenty of beer, wine, champagne, (or maybe something a little stronger) as well.

We wanted to see which are the biggest drinking days of the year, and whether the holidays are as big as we suspect. To find out, we analyzed transaction data at over 2,900 local beer, wine, and liquor stores across the country.

How much do local beer, wine, and liquor stores make?

Before we dive into the biggest days of the year, let’s first look at what an average day looks like at a local liquor store.

On a typical day, the average liquor stores in our analysis brought in $1,068 in revenue. These shops processed about 46 transactions, with the average customer spending about $23.07 per ticket.

This is, of course, merely an average, and the average day at many local liquors stores are drastically different than the average above. The types of stores in our analysis ranged from small town beer and spirits shops, to high-end wine stores, and everything in-between.

The busiest shops in our analysis processed upward of 200 daily transactions on average, while slower stores averaged under 5. Average ticket price also varied wildly, with some stores seeing an average ticket anywhere between $100 and $400, and others barely cracking the $10 ticket mark.

What are the busiest days of the week at local beer, wine, and liquor stores?

Despite the wide variety of beer, wine, and liquor stores, the vast majority of stores in our analysis looked similar to the average day described above. But, as you might expect, not all days are created equal for liquor stores. In order to get an even better understanding of sales at local liquor stores, we next broke things down by day of week.

As you might expect, Fridays and Saturdays are huge; 42% of all dollars spent at local liquor stores were on those two days alone. Meanwhile, 26% of liquor stores in our analysis kept their doors closed on Sundays, making it the slowest day of the week overall.

Looking at transacting businesses each day of the week shows that average number of transactions climb steadily from Monday through Thursday. Things spike over the weekend, when the average liquor store processes about 60 transactions on Fridays and Saturdays. Those liquor stores who remain open on Sundays still experience far slower sales than on Fridays and Saturdays, though, as average transactions drop to 44.

Interestingly, average ticket prices also skyrocket on Fridays and Saturdays. This shows that it’s not just that liquor stores bring in more customers on weekends, but those customers are also spending a lot more on average.

When do Americans buy the most booze?

Now that we’ve examined the typical week, let’s take a look at what the typical year looks like at local liquor stores. To do this, we analyzed the total revenue across all liquor stores in our analysis and broke it down week-by-week. Here’s what that looked like:

The year starts out with its slowest week, then climbing slowly but surely throughout late winter and spring. The year’s first major spike comes during the week of Independence day, but then rapidly settles to a steady state. Then, as you can see, things change significantly during the holidays.

We see another major spike during the week of Thanksgiving before a brief lull before the weeks of Christmas and New Years eve send things practically off the chart.

This certainly goes a long way to back up our theory that the holidays are the biggest drinking days of the year, but let’s take an even closer look:

What are the biggest days of the year for local beer, wine, and liquor stores?

To find the single-biggest days of the year, we first looked at which days saw the most total dollars being spent at liquor stores across the country.

On New Year’s Eve, Americans spent 159% more at liquor stores than on an average day, making it the biggest day of the year for liquor stores, nationally. Christmas Eve was not far behind at all, though, with a 151% increase in total consumer spending.

The third biggest day of the year, meanwhile, was the day before Thanksgiving. As we’ve detailed in another article, “Drinksgiving” or “Blackout Wednesday,” as the day is sometimes called, is becoming an increasingly popular drinking holiday.

Then, to underscore just how much Americans drink over the holidays, the 4th and 5th biggest days of the year were the Saturday and Friday before Christmas.

Other big single-days included Memorial Day weekend (#6 and #8 days), Cinco de Mayo (#7), and Father’s Day weekend (#9).

Which parts of the country buy the most alcohol on Thanksgiving Eve?

Thanksgiving Eve is the third biggest day of the year nationally, but in some cities, it’s even bigger. Let’s take a look at where Thanksgiving Eve is huge, and where it’s not.

Liquor stores in Poughkeepsie, NY were the busiest in our analysis on Thanksgiving eve, as locals spent an impressive 362% more on Thanksgiving Eve than an average day.

Six of our top ten cities were all in New England and the Northeastern United States, suggesting Thanksgiving dinners in that part of the country are perhaps more well-stocked with booze than anywhere else.

Particularly more than California, where six of our bottom ten cities on Thanksgiving Eve reside.

Which parts of the country buy the most alcohol on Christmas Eve?

Next up: Christmas Eve. The second biggest day of the year nationwide is sure to be big just about everywhere. But let’s take a closer look and see which parts of the country are most likely to leave Santa something a little stronger than a glass of milk.

Houston and Miami were far and away home to the busiest liquor stores on Christmas Eve. Both cities saw over 400% increases in total spending vs an average day.

After that, we once again have many of the same New England cities where Thanksgiving Eve was popular. Similarly, California once again dominates our list of bottom ten cities—where each saw only moderate increases on Christmas Eve compared to the massive increases in most parts of the country.

Which parts of the country buy the most alcohol on New Year’s Eve?

Finally, let’s take a look at the biggest day of the year for liquor stores, nationally. New Year’s Eve. It’s time to find out for good which cities are home to the wildest New Year’s Eve parties, and which are home to the tamest.

Houston liquor stores top the list once again, with Miami and New York coming in as a close 2nd and 3rd. But, even the 10th “slowest” city on our list saw an 84% increase in total revenue spent at local liquor stores, underscoring just how big an impact the holiday has.

California cities once again make up a significant portion of our bottom ten list, suggesting Californians may be much more likely to go out for drinks on New Year’s Eve than their east coast counterparts.

How to get the most out of the holiday season if you own or manage a beer, wine, and liquor store

If you own or manage a liquor store, chances are you’re all too familiar with how busy the holidays can be. As the season approaches, think of how you can use the boost in foot traffic to pay off in the slower seasons ahead.

Ask customers to leave you a review, or put together a strategy to collect email addresses to send your customers special deals or invite them back into the store for sales on future holidays.

Check out a few of our helpful guides for store owners:

Finally, check out how Womply’s reputation management software helps make all this easier while saving you time and money. Womply has helped businesses like yours increase revenue by 20%, see 22% more repeat customers, and save 10 hours of time per week. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

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