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Quick Hits: Drinkers Guzzling Cheaply

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Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

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It turns out the downbeat economy isn't enough to drive you to drink - or at least not the expensive stuff.

It appears more consumers are switching to supermarket swill and downing it at home, rather than going to a bar and ordering a fancy label.

But the rate of growth is slowing even among at-home boozers. Sales to retailers are up about half a percent this year, compared with 1.4% growth last year and 2.1% growth in 2006.

However, sales of imported beer fell 3%, an indication that more drinkers check their wallets before imbibing. But micro-brews, generally priced between lawn-mower suds and imports, are up mid-single digits this year.

The drinking downturn has also hit England, home of the warm pint. (Beer at room temperature was a shock to American GIs in World War II, who reportedly passed the glass back to the bartender and said, "Run it through the horse one more time.")

The British Beer and Pub Association says total beer sales dropped about 7% in the third quarter as compared to the same period last year.

Supermarket liquor sales fell 6% from July to September, just behind the 8.1% decline reported by pubs and restaurants.

Mon dieu! Even in France, sales of champagne were down 4.2%.

Chalk it up to the sobering effect of the market's decline.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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