2021 Alcohol consumption increases during pandemic

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In June 2021, Roy Morgan research found that the number of Australians consuming alcoholic drinks had increased significantly over the previous 12 months. This reversed a longer-term trend that had seen alcohol consumption declining. The increase occurred in a year that saw multiple lockdowns because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the year to June 2021, 13,908,000 Australians (69.7%) aged 18+ consumed alcohol in an average four-week period, up from 13,040,000 (65.7%) a year earlier.

The Morgan research found that, while beer consumption remained relatively static, wine, spirits and ready-to-drink (RTD) mixes all showed significant increases. The growth in spirits and RTDs reflected a new interest in home cocktails – a reaction to the closure of bars and pubs during lockdown. According to The Shout:

The increase in spare time and the fewer options to spend money on ‘going out’, supported by a range of virtual events and activities by brands and retailers alike, meant that consumers often used home cocktails as an opportunity to experiment and try new things. 

During the year, more than half a million more people drank RTDs (up from 2,187,000 to 2,699,000) while an extra 745,000 drank spirits (6,621,000, up from 5,876,000).  And there were nearly a million additional wine drinkers (9,237,000 up from 8,323,000). Morgans found that Australians aged 65-79 were the biggest wine drinkers, although the increase in this age group was smaller than for other demographics.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said:

The big question for the alcohol market going forward is can the trends of the last 18 months during the pandemic with increasing numbers of Australians consuming alcohol (in particular wine, spirits and RTDs) continue once the pandemic is over or will the prior longer-term trends on alcohol consumption reassert themselves when the lockdowns and forced business closures are over?”

There’s no doubt that the pandemic changed alcohol consumption habits in more ways than one. A previous Roy Morgan study pointed to a big increase in online liquor sales in 2020.

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