Something worth celebrating this holiday season is a recent report that rates of underage drinking by teens and also binge drinking by consumers in general are at the lowest levels since the 2015 Monitoring the Future Survey was first conducted in 1975; the study was released jointly by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan in mid-December. Education about alcohol use and abuse is largely credited with the decline, along with increased restrictions on access, regulations and penalties.
Having covered the alcohol industry for more than two decades, I’m heartened by these changes in consumer behaviors. The on-premise operators I’ve had the privilege of engaging with and observing have all demonstrated the highest level of commitment to responsible service, particularly regarding the prevention of service to underage and/or intoxicated individuals. What’s even more encouraging is that these professionals remain committed to responsible service. In fact, it remains one of the things that keeps many of them up at night. Training servers to recognize and stop overconsumption is consistently ranked among the top three issues for on-premise operators surveyed by Technomic each year; our fall 2015 operator survey 51% report being highly concerned about recognizing and preventing overconsumption.
Our outlook for 2016 calls for increased restaurant traffic and sales, and growth in drink sales. That’s good news for this industry, but more patrons coming through the doors requires even greater vigilance regarding responsible service. Cheers to a happy, healthy and safe New Year!