The dismal economic conditions have affected people all over the world, including Japanese businessmen, often known as "salarymen." A recent article in the Bloomberg Businessweek described how salarymens' spending on beer and Saké is currently at an eight-year low.
They usually go out drinking about three times a month, spending an average of $46 each time, a 19% decline over last year. Interestingly, the women of the household often control the purse strings and have been giving their husbands less spending money as they have had to tighten their household budgets. This "allowance," known as “kozukai,” is approximately $443 annually, about an 11% decrease since last year, and which makes the third consecutive year of decline.
So Saké consumption has likely decreased, or the salarymen are purchasing less expensive brands. This obviously does not bode well for the Saké industry, which had been relying on increased exports to make up for some of the decreased sales within Japan. But as I mentioned recently, 2009 was the first time in the past nine years that Japanese exports of Saké, including to the U.S., decreased.
Hopefully the economy will rebound soon and we can see a resurgence in Saké purchases. This is the time though to emphasize value Saké, to promote inexpensive but good brands. Hopefully it will be like wine, where people generally have not stopped drinking wine, they merely spend less on it.