Although I’m not nearly ready to start thinking about buying gifts for the holidays, almost a quarter of Americans already began their shopping in mid-September, according to Nielsen. The market research firm believes that higher consumer confidence levels, increased impulse buying and consumer intent to spend more could all lead to an increase in holiday spending this year. While gift-giving — and receiving — is exciting for consumers, spending forecasts are particularly exciting for the beverage industry this holiday season. 

According to Nielsen, alcohol is the only department expected to see dollar growth across categories this holiday season. Wine is predicted to drive category growth with 6 percent dollar and unit growth, with liquor close behind. Beer is forecasted to see 3 percent gains, Nielsen says.

Consumers also will be celebrating with non-alcohol drinks. Nielsen expects growth in smaller categories to make up for losses in the dairy and carbonated beverage categories. Coffee will drive beverage growth with a

10 percent increase in dollar sales and 7 percent increase in unit sales, Nielsen reports. Consumers’ continued interest in healthy options also should cause bottled water and refrigerated juices to increase 4.4 percent and 3.8 percent in dollar sales, and 2.9 percent and 2.4 percent in unit sales, respectively, this season.

 Only time will tell how the industry will fare. Until then, we’ll just have to enjoy the seasonal lights, music and drinks!