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April 1, 2009

Recession makes smokers, drinkers cut back

wine sourceRemember way back when I asked you if you were drinking or smoking more or less since the recession started?

Well, Commander Meredith's piece about it came out in today's paper.

Here is the gist of Meredith's article:

Data show that many people are taming their vices rather than drowning their sorrows these days - behavior that national researchers say is consistent with past recessions.

The desire to drink and smoke may grow with financial pressures, but sales of some alcohol and cigarettes are dipping with disposable income.

Makes sense to me. But it also gets me thinking ...

I've talked to a lot of bar owners, who say business is booming compared with this time last year. I wonder if that's just a pocket of the city's drinking scene, and not indicative of the whole thing.

Maybe when people do go out, they drink more than they used to, which accounts for the rise. I also think the Ravens having such a great season helped the bars significantly.

Oh, and if you read all the way to the bottom of Meredith's piece, you'll find a quote from Midnight Sun's very own Ryan Graham of the Dirty Marmaduke Flute Squad.

Photo: At The Wine Source in Hampden, Matt McOsker selects less expensive vintages, checking his iPhone for reviews of offerings while trying to keep the average under $10 a bottle. (Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna / March 12, 2009)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:08 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I actually think the bars are more crowded these days than they were last year. I remember St Patty's day was really mellow in Federal Hill and this year it seemed to have a ton more people. In general my friends and I try to spend less, but also pre-game a little more.

Yep, we're a band of drunks!

Weekends are still decent at bars, but weekdays are a killer. I went out last night to several bars in Canton and a few only had about 5 or 6 people in them.

I think a good way to save money in this economy is to take a page out of the college-kid playbook and start pre-gaming before going to the bars.

Even if you just have one or two drinks at home, that could save you a couple bucks a night.

Unfortunately, you might also need to start drinking Natural Light, but hey, sacrifices must be made.

Well, craft breweries seem to be doing alright, in general and thats in the face of an ongoing hop shortage that significantly drove up the price of raw material and was passed onto the beer consumer.

That bodes well for the places carrying them like Max's and Mahaffey's.

I have talked to a few bar owners, who have said about their food revenue going down, but drinks staying. Seems people are going for a drink or two, then home to eat.

When things are good, people drink. When things are bad, people drink.

I'm way too old to be admitting this, but my roomates and I always buy a couple thirty packs of natty before we go out. It's cheap, it tastes fine, and goes down really easy. to make up for all the money we save with buying a value brand, we usually waste between 60-100$ a piece on shots that we could of done without. This is all done to stimulate the economy

I am way too drunk to comment on this right now.

I think there are a number of factors at work, but the main one that not many seem to be discussing is that the economic downturn isn't really hitting that many people who go out in Baltimore in the pocketbook.

Part of that is the downturn is horribly overstated in the media (this is not the worst economy since the depression, and it may turn out it was a pretty mild recession). I also think Baltimore, in general, is not as affected by the recession as many other places.

Generally speaking, most folks are doing just fine. Using me as an example, I just refinanced my house to a lower interest rate, I still have a job, and I have cut back on some big ticket things (buying a new car), but not the everyday stuff, like going out to eat. I took a huge hit to my wealth, but my retirement horizon is 20 years off. The big stuff is where I find the money to do some additional saving, the little stuff is how I enjoy life.

I think most folks in Canton, Fells Point, Fed Hill, etc are in the same boat.

The recent price increases paid by the people who still go out may offset the losses from people who don't.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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