By Nicki Bourlioufas
An increasing number of surveys has found that the growth in wine drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic has been led by female drinkers rather than men.
Wine drinkers across key consumption markets have been turning more often to wine during the COVID-19 pandemic rather than other alcoholic beverages, spurred by lockdown occasions and more are drinking outside of mealtimes, Wine Intelligence research reveals. Its Wine Consumer Trends in the Covid-19 Era report tracks wine consumers from April to August 2020 in seven key wine consumption markets around the world and compares their behaviour with pre-COVID.
The report reveals female wine drinkers have increased their number of wine drinking occasions at higher rates than men. In some markets, such as the US and Canada, men are not far behind in terms of increasing their consumption, but in other markets, such as Sweden, men have reduced wine consumption, the report reveals.
“Wine, and alcohol generally, appears to be benefiting from enforced behaviour change and some short-term improvement in household budgets unburdened by the cost of summer vacations, commuting and going out,” said Lulie Halstead, one of the Wine Intelligence report’s authors.
In Australia, this is backed by official economic data, as revealed in this report. The alcoholic beverages category of household spending was the second biggest contributor to growth in total household spending (accounting for around two-thirds Australia’s GDP) over the year to June 30, as detailed in the chart below.
Household spending on alcohol jumped 17.4% over the year to June 30, 2020 and 13.0% in the June quarter – more than most other spending categories. Those increases came as total Australian household spending fell by 12.7% over the year and 12.1% during the quarter, depressing economic activity. Australia, like most developed economies around the globe is now firmly in recession. The economy shrank 7.0% in the June quarter, the largest quarterly fall on record, following a fall of 0.3% in the March quarter 2020.
The Global Drug Survey, the world’s largest annual drug survey, also reveals people were drinking alcohol more at home alone (39% during COVID-19 compared to 32% before) while many more were drinking alcohol at home during video and phone calls. Click here to go to a survey and tell us if you are drinking more during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women turn to the bottle
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals that 14% of Australians reported an increase in alcohol consumption during the period early-April to early-May. Women, in particular, reported increasing their consumption of alcohol, 18% compared with 10.8% for males, as reported here.
A separate survey, the 34th ANUpoll collected information between 12–24 May 2020, detailed here, found similar numbers. A higher proportion of females reported that their alcohol consumption had increased (18.1% compared with 15.5% for males.
Separately, the Global Drug Survey shows that not only did frequency increase for some drinkers, but 30% of respondents reported starting drinking earlier in the day, with women slightly more likely to say this, as the chart below shows.
These findings accord with research the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods’ report, Alcohol Consumption During the COVID19 Period: May 2020, which found there was a larger self-reported increase in alcohol consumption for females than males in May and having a child-caring role was strong predictor of an increase in alcohol consumption for females during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For males, on the other hand, it was a loss of job or a decline in hours worked which appears to be the strongest predictor of a (self-reported) increase in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report found.
More reason to drink
The Wine Intelligence report reveals that despite the closure of much of the on-premise, combined with limited socialising, travel and vacation opportunities during 2020 – or perhaps because of all of the above – wine drinking occasions have proliferated in many markets.
“Consumers have been switching into wine from other beverages, particularly spirits. They have found new occasions in the Covid era to indulge their wine habits – outdoors (increasingly using single serves, though this is growing from a low base), online with friends, and then the unwinding, solitary drinks in front of Netflix in the evening,” the report finds.