Did households buy more alcohol during our first national lockdown?
Several self-reported surveys have found that adults say they have been drinking more than they normally would, during COVID-19 lockdown.
This study uses alcohol purchase data to explore whether British households bought more alcohol than they normally would during the first COVID-19 lockdown period beginning in March 2020. It compares data from 2020 to previous years, as well as taking into account the alcohol that households would normally purchase in on-licence premises such as pubs and restaurants.
The study found that, when taking into account usual on-licence purchases, households didn’t buy significantly more alcohol (measured in units) during the recent COVID-19 lockdown.
The results are interesting, as they contradict self-reported surveys which suggest that adults have been drinking significantly more during COVID-19 lockdown, as recently highlighted by alcohol concern charity, Balance.
What happens next?
This difference needs further investigation, including the extent to which self-reported data might reflect anxiety or disorientation during what is an unprecedented change to the normal activities of daily living.
The study was led by Professor Peter Anderson, Newcastle University; supported by Professor Eva Jane Llopis, Maastricht University; Dr Amy O’Donnell, Newcastle University; and Professor Eileen Kaner, Newcastle University and Director of the NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria.
It was published in Alcohol and Alcoholism (Oxford University Press), 20 November 2020.