When the pandemic hit there was a concern that many of us going through a difficult time would turn to alcohol as a soothing respite to the hard reality of struggling through all the challenges of COVID-19.

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That never happened, as a matter of fact, New Jersey collectively is drinking much less alcohol than what was purchased and consumed in 2017 or 2018.

I was a little surprised that according to a Gallop Poll alcohol consumption has been steadily decreasing since 2010. Nielsen the ratings and demographic gurus published that nationally, non-alcohol beverages are up over $330 million dollars from 2020 and 2021.

This isn’t good news for the over 1500 package stores and the over 7,000 establishments serving alcohol here in New Jersey. The establishments took a major beating with COVID-19 forcing them to shut down and then open with limited hours and limited seating. As a result of the pandemic edicts, quite a few of these bars, restaurants, taverns, and inns were forced to close their doors forever.

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Those that remained open are also finding new ways and alternatives to create and sell “mocktails” which are cocktails that don’t contain alcohol but give the enjoyable feeling of socializing and drinking in the bar or party atmosphere.

Many craft non-alcoholic drinks are being developed and soda kings Pepsi and Coke are getting involved and taking advantage of the new “booze-free” era working hard on creating, marketing, and making available non-alcohol drinks available to the adult market.

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Many former patrons of bars and restaurants also feel the stranglehold of the economy as a result of the pandemic, causing them to stay home more and not frequent those alcohol establishments, more sad news for the bar and beverage industry.

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The landscape of the bar and restaurant business here in New Jersey has dramatically changed. For me, it will be tough to get used to but we all have to do what we can to survive. I wish nothing but good luck and high hopes for all my friends in the bar and restaurant business.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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