Are These Drinking Trends Killing Off Neighborhood Bars?

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Americans' evolving tastes for how they consume alcohol appear to be endangering an American institution.

Americans’ evolving tastes for how they consume alcohol appear to be endangering an American institution.

Neighborhood bars have been disappearing for a decade now, according to newly released statistics from Nielsen. The market research firm defines these establishments as bars that generally have a regular clientele with no dress code, obvious theme or cover charge.

Between 2004 and 2014, 1 in 6 neighborhood bars closed. The average national closure rate peaked last year, when more than six of these types of bars closed each day.

Closure rates are especially high in the Midwest. States where neighborhood bars have seen the greatest decline are:

  • Kansas
  • Arkansas
  • Michigan
  • Virginia
  • Indiana

Nielsen cites two trends as possible contributors to the decline of neighborhood bars.

The first is a growing demand for establishments that serve both alcoholic beverages and food, as more new restaurants are opening than bars nationwide. (Not to mention that this year is the first on record in which Americans spent more money dining out each month than they did on groceries.)

Mario Gutierrez, a vice president at Nielsen, tells CNN Money:

“More consumers want to go out for that full dining experience rather than just a few beers with a bag of chips at a local bar.”

The second trend is the growing variety of places where alcohol can be bought or consumed. According to Nielsen, these include a growing number of new casual dining options that serve alcohol — like “fast casual” food restaurants and brewpubs — as well as in-store dining and drinking options in grocery stores.

Have you noticed neighborhood bars dying off in your area? What are the most popular types of drinking establishments where you live? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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