CANUCK NEWSWIRE, December 17, 2004---Draught beer sales dropped 74% across the country in November and industry insiders are blaming the NHL lockout for the astounding drop. "We've never seen anything like it," said Gregg D'Avignon, vice-president of the Brewers Association of Canada.
"My bar she is empty on Saturday night; no hockey, no customers," said Bruno Phillipe, owner of "Brasserie Le Prix" in Quebec City.
Bottled beer sales are also off by 61% nationwide and the NHL lockout is blamed for that as well. Garth Rousseau, of Cornwall Ontario, a typical blue-collar town of 40 000, told us, "Well there's nothing to do on Saturday night no more, so we just pile the family into the truck and go visit relatives and friends." "My buddies and me would polish off at least nine beer each during a game and more if it was the Leafs against Montreal," he stated.
Canada's largest brewers, Labatts and Molson, have warned Bay Street that sales are down and fourth-quarter results are going to be much lower than usual with a dividend of less than a nickle per share. Labatts have also warned that unsold inventory is now high enough to cover the next quarter of demand.
"Unless the NHL lockout ends, there is going to be no alternative but to lay all workers off for the second quarter of 2005," said Traci Scott, Labatts VP Communications, adding, "The union has said 'No way in hell.' to this. I think we will have to hire the Hells Angels to protect management from the union toughs. The Angels will work for free beer, we're sure."
"We're in for a rough ride.", said Denial J. O'Neil, Molson's President and CEO who doesn't rule out layoffs if things don't improve in 2005. "Our planned merger with Coors is in the toilet too."
Surprisingly, attendance is way up at Sunday churches across the nation. "Folks started coming back in September and it's better every month," said Father McMillan, pastor of St. Ryans in Flin Flon, Manitoba, "Parents who have (ahem) 'clear heads' bring their children and pretty soon we've got a full house for services. It's a blessing, the strike, a real blessing."