Not surprisingly new Nielsen data today confirm that alcohol consumption fell by 35.6% in April 2020 compared to April 2019 as a result of Covid-19 restrictions and the closure of the on-trade.
The Nielsen figures show that alcohol sales increased in the off-trade in April but, overall, the closure of Ireland’s pubs, hotels, restaurants and nightclubs resulted in a fall in the total amount of alcohol consumed in Ireland.
The Nielsen data, released by Drinks Ireland, provides figures on the sale of beer and cider (Long Alcoholic Drinks) as well as spirits in Ireland – but not wine – in both the on- and off-trade.
The industry estimates that wine sales volumes remain about the same in Ireland overall as a result of an increase in off-trade sales whereas only around 18% of wines are sold across the pub counter.
Nielsen reports a 58% increase in the off-trade volume of beer and cider sold but overall sales of beer and cider fell by 36% due to the pubs being closed. It’s estimated that generally around 60% of beer and cider sales are in the on-trade.
And 4.9 million fewer 35.5ml serves of spirits were sold in April 2020 compared to the previous year while there was a 24% increase in the volume of off-trade spirits sales. However this still resulted in a 13% decrease in the volume of spirits sold in Ireland overall.
According to Drinks Ireland the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted Ireland’s drinks industry, with the closure of the on-trade and restrictions in supply to many off-trade channels, not just here in Ireland, but across global markets, imposing commercial pressure on producers.
In addition, the closure of brewery and distillery visitor centres, which usually attract three million people, mainly overseas visitors, has severely impacted jobs and revenue.
“There has been a perception that people are drinking more as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, but these figures clearly show that this is not the case, with overall sales down by just under 36%,” explained Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan, “With pubs, restaurants and hotels closed and Government restrictions in place, there’s been not only a fall in the amount of alcohol consumed but changes in the way people drink.
“Many people have taken part in a virtual drink with family or friends but we’re also seeing an array of online wine and drink tastings and cocktail-making events. People are also enjoying a drink in the garden in the sun or with dinner at home after work, allowing for a little bit of normality at this time.”
Nielsen’s figures do not include sales data from Dunnes Stores or the discounters.
In bars and pubs, overall sales volumes decreased by 90.5% in April and by 90.4% in value when compared to April 2019 according to provisional seasonally-adjusted figures from the CSO’s Retail Sales Volume data for the month.