America's Booziest Cities Have Been Ranked, And They're Not What We Expected


Madison Dapcevich

Staff Writer

clockOct 19 2018, 10:26 UTC

Overall, Americans are spending nearly 57 percent more on alcohol than they were 20 years ago. Disobeyart/Shutterstock

Over the last two decades, Americans have more than doubled the amount of money they spend on alcohol every year with some cities cashing out far more than others.

An analysis conducted by Delphi Behavioral Health Group compared average alcohol expenditures by metropolitan areas from 2016 to 2017 using data collected annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey. They found that drinkers in West Coast major metropolitan areas generally spend more on alcohol than those in any other region.


Topping the chart were coastal cities San Diego, California and Seattle, Washington. Those in San Diego spent almost one-third more on alcohol than they did the previous year, an average of $1,112 in 2017, up from $850 in 2016. Seattleites, on the other hand, spent about $986 in 2017, an increase of 32 percent since 2016.

Slipping from its number one slot, San Francisco spent nearly one-quarter less in 2017, putting the Golden City at number three overall. The authors note this annual decrease of about $256 could have been caused by natural disasters in the area, such as that year's wildfire season, which devastated Napa and Sonoma counties just north of the Bay Area, keeping city folks from heading to wine country.

Meanwhile, Atlanta, Georgia and Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas spent a relatively small amount of money on alcohol when compared to other cities but did see an increase in the amount of booze purchased from the year before. This is likely due to quickening gentrification occurring in both cities.


Another city reeling from the impacts of Mother Nature, Houston, Texas saw booze purchases go up in 2017 in the face of – or, perhaps because of – Hurricane Harvey, which hit the coastal city that same year. Other southern cities whose alcohol spending was already low saw an additional decline, particularly Miami and Phoenix.

Overall, the dataset analyzes American spending habits since 1996. The authors say the increase in alcohol spending can largely be attributed to an expanding alcohol-purchasing base, particularly in women and older Americans. What's more, the country is seeing a boom in artisan and craft beverages (here’s to you, microbrews) partly responsible for driving the cost of booze.

“That time frame witnessed a remarkable surge in spending in certain categories: Average annual education and health care expenditures increased more than 150 percent,” the report said. “But alongside rising costs related to those necessities, spending on vices spiked as well.”


Tobacco and smoking expenses also increased by 32 percent in part because of increasing taxes. All that being said, alcohol expenditure still accounts for less than 1 percent of average annual household purchases.

Delphi Behavioral Health Group

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