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Alcohol sales declined by 6% globally during pandemic

Vast majority consumed same or less alcohol in 2020; Targeted support needed for the minority that continues to drink at harmful levels

Consumers around the world bought 15.8 billion fewer liters of alcohol beverages last year, according to new data from Euromonitor International  that illustrate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s buying behavior.

Global alcohol sales volumes declined by more than 6% year on year in 2020, according to data from more than 100 countries, amid widespread closures of hospitality venues and restrictions on socializing with friends and family.

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) – an organization dedicated to reducing harmful drinking and supported by the world’s leading beer, wine, and spirits producers – said that lower alcohol sales were further evidence that the vast majority of people were drinking the same or less during the COVID-19 shutdowns. It follows surveys conducted by YouGov for IARD in May 2020 and November 2020 that found that 84% and 86% of drinkers were consuming the same amount or less alcohol during shutdowns.

However, despite reductions in global sales volumes, there is emerging data from some countries that indicates certain groups already drinking at harmful levels intensified these risky patterns in the past year.  This underscores a need for targeted support for those who have struggled the most during the pandemic.

Henry Ashworth, IARD President and CEO, said:
“Despite reports of people rushing to stock up on alcohol in supermarkets, pictures of empty shelves, and fears that people would drink more when confined to their homes, these sales figures definitively show that less alcohol was bought in 2020.

“Although the majority of drinkers continue to consume alcohol at moderate levels, we recognize that the pandemic reinforced harmful drinking patterns for some people. As societies begin to reopen it is essential for private, public, and civil society to come together to ensure that targeted and appropriate support is available for those who need it most.”

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Notes to editors
1. Euromonitor International Proprietary Alcoholic Drinks data
Top twenty markets by alcohol sales volume
Market Global alcohol sales volume year-on-year growth 2019-2020
China -8.5%
USA -0.6%
Brazil 4.1%
Germany -5.2%
Russia 1.7%
Mexico -7.2%
Japan -5.9%
United Kingdom -10.1%
India -19.0%
Spain -14.4%
France -8.0%
Vietnam -14.0%
Poland -5.9%
Italy -8.5%
South Korea 0.4%
South Africa -20.4%
Canada 0.4%
Argentina 2.7%
Australia 1.3%
Thailand -9.3%
 
2. All figures related to polling, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.
Wave 1 May 2020
Total sample size was 11,678 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13 and 21 May 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all-country adults (aged 18+).
Wave 2 November 2020
Total sample size was 16,657 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30 October and 11 November 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all-country adults (aged 18+).

3. International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to reducing harmful drinking and promoting understanding of responsible drinking. We are supported by the leading global beer, wine, and spirits producers, who have come together for a common purpose: to be part of the solution in combating harmful drinking. To advance this shared mission, IARD works and partners with public sector, civil society, and private stakeholders. www.iard.org