Special Report

How Much People Spend on Alcohol in 22 Major American Cities

The share of Americans who drink alcohol has climbed slightly in recent years. According to a recent Gallup poll, 65% of American adults drink alcohol, up from 63% in 2018 and 62% in 2017. 

America’s growing drinking population is reflected in consumer spending habits in some major cities. Of the 22 major metropolitan areas tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, 18 reported a year-over-year increase in average alcohol spending. 

Average consumer spending on alcohol varies by metro area, however. Depending on the city, the average spending on alcoholic beverages ranges from as little as $512 per person per year to as much as $1,218. 

Using BLS data, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed average annual personal alcohol spending in 22 major metro areas to identify the cities that spend the most on alcohol. We also reviewed cost of living data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and excessive drinking rates with data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program.

Alcohol spending is a product of both the price of alcohol and volume purchased. As a result, high average annual alcohol spending does not necessarily mean unhealthy or dangerous drinking habits. The vast majority of the cities spending the most have a higher than average cost of living, with goods and services costing as much as 28% more than they do nationwide. Here is a look at the most expensive city in each state

While a high cost of living may partially explain higher consumer spending on alcohol, greater than average consumption is also often a factor. Here is a full list of cities with the highest excessive drinking rate by state.

City Yearly Alcohol Spending Per Person YoY Spending Change Cost of Living Excessive Drinking Rate
1. San Diego $1,218 +8.7% 16% more than avg. 21.9%
2. Seattle $1,124 +12.3% 11.8% more than avg. 19.2%
3. Washington D.C. $1,111 +40.4% 18.4% more than avg. 18.4%
4. Boston $913 +9.9% 11.8% more than avg. 21.4%
5. Anchorage $878 +10.3% 7.9% more than avg. 20.1%
6. Minneapolis $809 +6.8% 2.2% more than avg. 23.8%
7. San Francisco $800 -9.4% 28% more than avg. 19.3%
8. Denver $772 +0.1% 6.3% more than avg. 21.7%
9. Dallas $766 +24.8% 0.2% more than avg. 18.4%
10. Detroit $735 +10.5% 4.2% less than avg. 20.6%
11. St. Louis $709 +3.5% 8.6% less than avg. 20.3%
12. Los Angeles $657 +5.6% 17.1% more than avg. 17.2%
12. Chicago $657 +22.5% 3.4% more than avg. 21.6%
14. Houston $608 -6.9% 1.7% more than avg. 18.5%
15. New York $603 +17.2% 22.3% more than avg. 18.7%
16. Philadelphia $598 +17.7% 5.4% more than avg. 20.3%
17. Tampa $555 +24.9% 1.1% less than avg. 19.7%
18. Baltimore $546 -32.6% 7.2% more than avg. 17.8%
19. Miami $530 +8.1% 8.4% more than avg. 17.6%
20. Phoenix $527 +8.0% 2.3% less than avg. 18.3%
21. Honolulu $517 -27.3% 24.7% more than avg. 18.9%
22. Atlanta $512 +24.8% 3.2% less than avg. 16.5%

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