MEDIA RELEASE

21 May 2020

“Aussies drinking less in Isolation”

CONTRARY to alarmist claims, it’s now official… Australians are drinking less in isolation.

Mr Andrew Wilsmore, Chief Executive Officer of Alcohol Beverages Australia, said today “A spate of dubious polls have captured headlines recently, but the clear data from Australia’s most independent and authoritative source shows people are drinking more responsibly than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

“In fact, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ ‘Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey’[1], released this week, reveals:

  • 9.5% are drinking less,
  • 47.1% are drinking the same amount,
  • 14.4% are drinking more, and
  • 28.9% continued to abstain.

“The result shows that 85.6% of Australians are drinking responsibly during the pandemic shutdown. That’s actually a 1.6% improvement on the ABS National Health Survey finding of 84% released in December 2018.

“So, fewer Australians are drinking at excessive levels.

“It’s a finding that backs data showing beer, wine and spirits sales during the pandemic have plummeted by up to 35%, with many smaller producers suffering revenue losses of over 80%. It only stands to reason that when people are buying less, they cannot be drinking more.

“It’s time Australians were given credit for their responsible conduct during this crisis.

“Pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes are part of Australians’ lifestyle. Having a drink in Australia is a social activity. Watching the footy with mates, a few drinks after work at the pub or a family barbecue on the weekend. The shutdown ended all of that.

“We saw a natural shift following the closure of hospitality venues to liquor stores sales, but not enough to offset the loss of pub sales. Since that initial spike retail sales have been falling ever since.

“Reports from recently re-opened venues all positively reflect on Australia’s responsible drinking culture, with venues reporting customers enjoying a drink as part of the pleasure of re-socialising with family, friends and colleagues.

“No-one is saying there aren’t issues with alcohol. There are and more needs to be done to tackle the array of social and cultural drivers leading some people to drink at excessive levels.

“But the over-hyped and, frankly, dodgy polls being bandied around simply do not stack up to scrutiny. They do Australians, who have clearly heeded the responsible consumption message, no favours in falsely vilifying them. Rather, Australians have earned a pat on the back.

[1] https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4940.0Media%20Release3229%20Apr%20-%204%20May%202020?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4940.0&issue=29%20Apr%20-%204%20May%202020&num=&view=

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