‘Tis the season to be less jolly, but not necessarily more sober. The world economy was gifted an empty Christmas stocking this year when the US holiday buyer turned in his worst performance in nearly four decades. But one sector held its own. Booze peddlers across the world generally did even better than last year. A North American drinks maker’s spokesperson explained, “Liquor sales soar when the economy is either really good or really bad, as people either want to celebrate or attempt to drown their sorrows.” The latter trend seems dominant. It’s not mulled cider or the wassail bowl that’s providing Christmas and New Year’s cheer. When the going gets tough, the strong gets going: it’s whisky, vodka and the potent brews that are selling the best.
Even the stockmarket accepts that hooch and the holiday season are close companions. Why else did Rudolph the reindeer have a red nose? Vice funds, investment funds that focus on Sin City industries, generally outperform the market. Sex isn’t doing too bad: Durex, the condom makers, recently announced runaway sales. Tobacco firms are being pummeled by regulators, not consumers. Strippers at Rick’s Cabaret in Manhattan were recently quoted as saying that tips from the tipsy were coming in at normal levels.
Mind you, not all forms of alcohol are doing well. Ethanol producers, prostrated by crashing petroleum prices, have been going belly-up all across the world. No one has time for green thoughts when red ink is the colour of the festive season.