Fresh UK statistics about alcohol consumption during and post-Covid

The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) UK has examined alcohol consumption during the pandemic and published the results in extensive briefings:

Their findings are as follows:

– During the first lockdown (March 2020-June 2020) sales of alcohol in supermarkets rocketed by an extra £160m in the three weeks to lockdown compared with the same period the previous year (March 2019-June 2019). People stockpiled their supply of alcohol alongside other household items.
– One survey found that 25% of adults were risky drinkers between April 2019 and February 2020, compared with 38% during lockdown in April 2020.
– Evidence indicated increase in the prevalence of risky drinking as the most frequent drinkers had increased their alcohol consumption the most.

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University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group revealed the impact the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic has had on alcohol consumption in Scotland and England:

Their method of research was to assess changes in people’s drinking behaviour, examining the average number of drinking days people had, different occasions they drank and the number of alcohol units they consumed per week using data from weekly drinking diaries.

They found that:

– Alcohol consumption fell overall in both Scotland and England during the first stages of the Covid-19 pandemic
– The increase in alcohol consumption at home did not fully offset the reduction in drinking in pubs and restaurants during the first lockdown (March-June 2020)
– People did not start drinking earlier in the day

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Guardian wrote this article: “UK pubs’ turnover 20% down on pre-Covid levels despite return of indoor drinking”.

They state that turnover in the first week of reopening (17th May) was 20% lower than in the same week in 2019. Reasons  government restrictions and physical-distancing measures.

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UCL Research Team conducted a study and reported that a quarter of adults reported drinking more during first lockdown.

Their method of research was to survey over 30,000 adults about their drinking behaviour during the earliest stage of lockdown between 21 March and 4 April 2020.

Here is what they found:

– Between 21 March and 4 April 2020 a third (34.3%) weren’t drinking.
– Among people who drank, 48.1% reported drinking about the same, 26.2% reported drinking more and 25.7% reported drinking less than usual during the surveyed week.
– Younger women with post-16 educational qualifications and a household income over £30,000 were more likely to report increased alcohol consumption.
– Having an anxiety disorder, being stressed about finances or about catching or becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 were factors associated with increased alcohol consumption.
– Drinking less than usual during the surveyed week was independently associated with  being younger, male, BAME, having a household income lower than £30,000, having been diagnosed with or suspected to have COVID-19, taking on COVID-19 related protective behaviours, being stressed about becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and not being a key worker.

That led to the following assumptions:

– Women might be more likely to drink because  more likely to lose their jobs and carry the burdens of increased childcare and housework.
– People with anxiety disorders  self-medicate or as an unhelpful coping mechanism during a period of increased anxiety.

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Written by – Courtney Burdis

Photo by – Kelsey Chance, Unsplash

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