Alcohol outlet density refers to the number and concentration of alcohol retailers (such as bars, restaurants, liquor stores) in an area.
Regulating the number of places in a given area where alcohol may be legally sold (outlet density) is an effective way to prevent excessive alcohol use, according to a Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide).
Excessive alcohol consumption, which includes both binge drinking and heavy average daily alcohol consumption, is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States. According to the review, sufficient evidence exists of a positive link between outlet density and excessive alcohol use and related harms.
Community Guide Recommendations
On the basis of this evidence, the Task Force concludes that limiting on- and off-premises alcoholic beverage outlet density— either by reducing current density levels or limiting density growth— can be an effective means of reducing the harms associated with excessive alcohol consumption. It may also provide additional benefits for quality of life by reducing community problems such as loitering, public disturbances, and vandalism.
“…There is sufficient evidence of a positive association between outlet density and excessive alcohol consumption and related harms to recommend limiting alcohol outlet density through the use of regulatory authority (e.g., licensing and zoning) as a means of reducing or controlling excessive alcohol consumption and related harms.”