Thanksgiving Eve bar, alcohol sales expected to spike as officials urge travel safety

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest party nights of the year

Thanksgiving festivities will soon kick off with the night that's been called “Blackout Wednesday," “Drinksgiving" and even "Whiskey Wednesday."

Thanksgiving Eve is one of the biggest party nights of the year, with some cities’ bars seeing spikes of more than 130 percent in sales, a study by Womply shows.

People returning home, or simply celebrating in Los Angeles, flocked to area watering holes and prompted sales to grow by 141 percent last year compared to the year before, according to the survey.


Bars in Akron, Ohio, and Boston saw the next-biggest spikes, with each seeing a sales increase of 134 percent.

And 2018’s Thanksgiving Eve was the third biggest day of the year for bars in terms of total consumer spending, behind New Year’s Eve and July 3, according to the survey.


But local bars weren’t the only businesses that benefitted from the undeclared holiday.

“Local liquor, beer, and wine stores averaged a whopping 180 [percent] more in revenue on Thanksgiving Eve compared to a typical Wednesday,” according to the Womply report, which added: “liquor stores seeing nearly twice as many customers as usual, and those customers are buying a lot more booze as well.”

A different but related Womply survey found 2018’s Thanksgiving Eve was also the third biggest day of the year for liquor stores in terms of total consumer spending, trailing only Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

BeerBoard conducted its own survey and found Thanksgiving Eve’s beer sales in 2018 spiked in the Northeast region more than any other part of the country compared to Wednesday of the previous week.

The Northeast saw an increase in beer sales of just more than 70 percent, followed by the Great Lakes, which saw a 51 percent increase, and California, where sales rose 50 percent.


“Our Thanksgiving Eve report shows this holiday is more than turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. On the reporting side, this has long been overlooked as a major event in the industry and actually rivals the popularity of St. Patrick’s and New Years Days,” Mark Young, BeerBoard’s founder and CEO, told FOX Business.

As we dove into the data, the story was very clear: People are gathering to celebrate with family and friends, and it is having a significant impact for bars, brewers and markets.

- Mark Young, BeerBoard Founder/CEO

BeerBoard also found that light lagers topped the charts for the most popular type of brew, trailed by lagers and IPAs.


But the fun and games can also turn dangerous, and in some cases even deadly, statistics provided by Mothers Against Drunk Driving show.

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At least 133 people died in 2018 as a result of alcohol-related car crashes from 6 p.m. that Wednesday to 5:59 a.m. Monday, MADD wrote in a release, citing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Meanwhile, more than 800 people were killed in crashes on Thanksgiving Eve from 2013 to 2017.

“Every single one of these drunk driving deaths was preventable. Every single one left an empty seat at the table and turned a time for families and tradition into a time of tragedy,” said MADD National President Helen Witty. “If you drink, don’t drive. If you drive, don’t drink. It’s that simple."

Uber partnered with MADD this holiday season to spread the word about the risks of driving while impaired.

The ridesharing service will also be providing promotional codes to regions in New York state, as well as central and southern New Jersey and western Massachusetts, a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, a Lyft spokesperson told FOX Business the company is offering promotions in various parts of the country, including areas in Missouri, New York and Ohio.

“Thanksgiving week is a busy time for Lyft riders who are traveling to celebrate with their families and friends," spokesperson Ashley Adams said in an emailed statement. "Lyft is proud to provide an affordable and reliable transportation option that helps our riders reach the people and places that matter most.”