For Beer, Higher Prices = Lesser Share

Beer has outpriced wine and spirits for more than a decade, according to Tom Bailey, senior consumer foods analyst at Rabobank. And that's contributed to beer losing significant market share over that period, he says. At the same time, beer is facing stiffer competition from ready-to-drink cocktails and hard seltzers, which have emerged as a formidable fourth category.

Bottom line: There is little wriggle room to take prices any higher without losing customers, Bailey says. But no barbecue would be complete without a cold beer, so it remains a staple purchase that will yield robust sales ahead of the Fourth of July weekend. Meanwhile, soda prices have shot up 36% in the past 18 months and the major players are looking to take prices even higher. Zero-sugar options abound and are growing faster than traditional soda.

Among baby boomers, spending on travel and food has increased thanks, in part, to an 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment to their Social Security benefits this year. As for millennials and Generation Z, they are preferring experiences to things, and numerous academic studies have shown people get more happiness from their experiences than from their possessions.