Did COVID-19 Make us Drink More Booze?

As drink makers, it’s our business to know what’s in your glass. That’s why we’re always curious about the trends in drinking.

Even before COVID-19 started, there were big changes afoot in what Americans were drinking. Beer and wine sales: down. Hard seltzer sales: up. Millennials and GenZers: drinking less. Women: drinking more. And so on. 

COVID-19 created a new dynamic in these trends — as it did in everything else in life. But how exactly COVID-19 has changed those trends is complicated; the data is nuanced.

In the first few months of the pandemic, a University of Southern California study found that alcohol sales increased by 34% compared to the same months the year prior. Two thirds of respondents in a study conducted by RAND said they’d increased their consumption of alcohol during the COVID lockdown. Womens’ habits were disportionately affected — the same study showed that heavy drinking among women increased by 41%, outpacing males.

But, at the same time, the data shows different stories for different groups of people. 17% of the the RAND survey respondents said they’d decreased their drinking because of COVID-19. In another study published in Nutrition Journal, 42% of young adults said they’d decreased their alcohol consumption during lockdown. And a study in the UK found that 40% of heavy drinkers decreased their alcohol consumption during COVID-19. 

So what can we make of all of this? Will habits change over the long term? Will there be an alcohol backlash as the world returns to “normal?” Time will tell.

Our bet: the gravitational pull of health and wellness will accelerate Americans’ attention to healthy living. After all, 79% of Americans say that health and wellness are important to them and that number is steadily growing. 

And, talking about trends, we’d be remiss not to mention the most important beverage stat in our business: sales of non-alcoholic beverages are expected to grow by more than 30% by 2024, according to the market research firm IWSR. There’s so much to discover in the world of beverages beyond alcohol and we can’t wait to share it with you. 

Back to work, making more Kally!