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Alcohol sales on pace to high record high: report

TORONTO – A new study suggests Canadians are thirstier than ever as sales of wine, beer and spirits are on track to setting a record high.

Increasing indulgence has been a trend all year long with Canadians spending close to half a billion dollars more on alcohol in the first nine months of 2012 than in 2011, according to the Bank of Montreal (BMO) which completed the study.

“If this healthy growth holds up through the holiday season, that would set the stage for record retail sales of more than $19 billion in 2012,” said Aaron Goertzen, an economist with BMO Capital Markets.

Whether it is family get-togethers, holiday parties or just drinking to stay warm, liquor sales typically surge by over 40 per cent of the monthly average in December, the study suggests.

By comparison, despite the hordes of people descending on malls to purchase gifts for their loved ones, the retail sector only rises by 15-20 per cent in December, according to BMO.

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“The increase comes from higher volume as Canadians serve more liquor at dinner and parties over the holiday, and buy more expensive premium brands for festive occasions and gifts,” according to a BMO press release.

Quebecers contribute the most significant bump to spending on alcohol with sales rising approximate 65 per cent above average in December.

Ontarians’ penchant for drinking is a boon to the province’s wineries during the holiday season, BMO said.