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Cheers, it's the holidays

Canadians are expected to raise their glasses many times this holiday season with alcohol sales on track to set a record high this month and also for 2012, says a new report.

The average Canadian adult will spend more than $85 on booze in December, which translates to about one bottle of spirits, three bottles of wine and 27 bottles of beer, according to the BMO Holiday "Spirits" report.

"If the strength we've seen so far persists through the holiday season, then the industry is on track for a very strong and probably a record year," BMO economist Aaron Goertzen said Friday.

Annual alcohol sales in Canada are expected to top $19 billion this year, about 38 per cent or $700 million higher than in 2011, he said.

By comparison, the retail sector as a whole is usually up 15 per cent to 20 per cent from holiday shopping, the report said.

Sales of spirits, wine and beer typically surge in December, making it the highest volume sales month, Goertzen said from Toronto.

"So we're looking for a jump of around 40 per cent compared to the annual average as people are hosting get togethers and purchasing gifts for family and friends and enjoying the holiday spirit," he said.

That increase will be about the same as last December, he added.

The report also said Quebecers have shown the most pronounced increase in holiday spending on alcohol, with sales rising about 65 per cent above average in December.

The Canadian Press


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