Is ‘Dry January’ hurting bars and alcohol retailers? Enterprise execs chime in

Some Dry January objectors have speculated that the annual well being marketing campaign is hurting bars and alcohol retailers, but professionals within the subject say there’s a bunch of the explanation why some small enterprise house owners are struggling. 

The 31-day abstinence motion might not have helped the alcohol business, particularly when a Morning Seek the advice of market analysis report says Dry January has grown in reputation from 13% of American adults working towards it in 2021, to a projected 19% for 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic and seasonal developments are bigger elements which might be doubtless accountable for declining alcohol gross sales.


Pat Mild, founder and president of the Mild Restaurant Group – which incorporates the Inexperienced Rock bar and McSwiggan’s Pub in Hoboken, New Jersey, advised FOX Enterprise that January hasn’t been one of the best month for bars prior, and amid pandemic.

Pat Mild, the founder and proprietor of the McSwiggan’s Pub in Hoboken, New Jersey, tells FOX Enterprise that January is usually a gradual month for the bar business. (Google Maps)

“Through the first two weeks of January, we noticed a slight lower in alcohol gross sales throughout the group,” Mild advised FOX Enterprise in an electronic mail. “Whereas Dry January contributed to the lower, it is not the one issue impacting alcohol gross sales. Traditionally, January tends to be a slower month for the business for a number of causes, together with New 12 months’s well being resolutions, individuals slowing their spending after holidays, and now ongoing considerations associated to the pandemic, to call a number of.”

He continued, “The largest problem going through bars and eating places proper now, particularly in New York Metropolis, is COVID-19 restrictions. We’ve got seen a big uptick in individuals coming throughout the Hudson River to Hoboken as a result of New Jersey does not require proof of vaccinations for indoor eating. For my part, the affect of COVID-19 on the business is just like when a inventory market bubble bursts: It’s going to weed out poorly run bars and eating places and the well-run locations will proceed to succeed.”


To climate pandemic challenges, Mild and his workforce have up to date every location’s menus, constructed outside eating buildings, leveraged social media to draw patrons and raised costs to offset rising meals and alcohol prices.        

“As in any business, bars and eating places must adapt or they are going to falter,” Mild famous.

Whereas Dry January actually doesn’t assist the alcohol business, particularly when a Morning Seek the advice of market analysis report says the well being marketing campaign has grown in reputation from 13% of American adults working towards it in 2021 to a projected 19% for 2022, th (iStock)

Ken Lineberger, founder and CEO of Waters Edge Wineries – a single-brand vineyard with greater than a dozen places all through California, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, Ohio and Oklahoma – advised FOX he isn’t sure that Dry January has performed a task within the firm’s on-premise gross sales.

“January is usually a quieter month after a busy December – which was our greatest month of 2021,” Lineberger stated. “We are also challenged with staffing points which trigger our places to restrict the variety of visitors they will serve typically leaving tables vacant if we will’t present the high-quality service in every vineyard. On high of that, we have now skilled the wave of omicron that has impacted our staffing and our visitors who’ve contracted the sickness.”

He added, “Regardless of all of this, our January gross sales are anticipated to be akin to 2021 gross sales, if not barely higher because of the bettering financial system in most areas of the nation. It’s unclear if Dry January is having any destructive affect on our gross sales given these different elements that could be influencing it in a extra pronounced method.”


Bob Ray, chief working officer at Margaritas Administration Group – a margarita-focused Mexican restaurant model with 25 places within the Northeast – advised FOX that Dry January doesn’t appear to be hindering its enterprise.

“Our ratio of bar gross sales to meals gross sales has stayed constant this month, and we have now seen a tick up in how typically our visitors are selecting to have a margarita,” Ray stated. “In some markets, we have now seen different bars and eating places shut earlier – typically as a consequence of staffing changes however possibly additionally seasonality. We’ve got held agency on hours and proceed to be up in gross sales after 9 p.m. in comparison with pre-pandemic ranges. Alcohol gross sales, and particularly margarita gross sales are the core of this later enterprise for us.”

With places in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Margaritas hasn’t been resistant to exterior elements like winter storms, however the firm has “shifted as much as 20%” of its eating enterprise to takeout, based on Ray. 


In comparison with mom-and-pop bars that primarily promote alcohol over meals, takeout and supply providers could be a potential problem relying on native ordinances on liquor gross sales and the rise of direct-to-consumer alcohol sellers and third-party supply providers.

A media consultant for Restaurant365 advised FOX that liquor gross sales at eating places throughout the nation are down a mean of 143% from December to January, based on information the all-in-one restaurant administration software program platform has on file.

Bars and eating places that promote alcohol are seeing a gross sales decline that is doubtless the results of post-holiday penny-pinching, pandemic-related sheltering in place and health-conscious New 12 months’s resolutions, amongst a number of different exterior elements. (iStock)

All through the U.S., meals and beverage service leaders have cited client hesitance for dine-in service in gentle of the latest COVID-19 omicron surge as a significant factor in declining gross sales. Subsequent vaccine mandates for indoor eating could also be an element for unvaccinated patrons preferring to eat and drink at residence.


As of Jan. 27, 2022, the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard’s tally exhibits greater than 19.2 million Individuals have been contaminated inside a 28-day interval nationwide. Greater than 50,910 of these circumstances have resulted in loss of life.