Switzerland: Alcohol Sales Collapse During COVID-19 Lockdown
Market data show that alcohol sales have collapsed during COVID-19 lockdown in Switzerland.
Early on, in the COVID-19 pandemic, Switzerland implemented self-isolation for all citizens. With increasing alcohol sales reported by retailers and photos on social media of crowded waste glass collection points, there was concern alcohol addiction might rise in the country with the pandemic.
While retail sales of alcohol did increase, it did not, however, increase to match the drop in on-premise sales such as in restaurants, bars, and pubs. This means while the Swiss people are consuming more alcohol at home there has been a general decrease during the COVID-19 lockdown as overall sales have collapsed.
Retail sales increased from mid March by 1.7% in quantity. However, on-premise sales decreased by about 25% during this same time period. Sales in breweries have fallen by 5.9% and in April the beer industry saw a sales collapse of 15%.
A previously unpublished survey by the Swiss Beverage Association shows that Swiss beverage manufacturers are expecting major sales difficulties, even stretching into the future.
Stock exchange prices of big breweries have also fallen. Danish multinational beer giant Carlsberg, number one in the Swiss beer market, has lost 16% in value. Number two in the market, Heineken, lost 22%.
Alcohol sales will be further decreased as festivals such as the Montreux Jazz Festival or the Paléo Festival and major sports events such as German-Swiss Open Airs or the European Football Championship have also been cancelled or postponed.
Changing alcohol norms among Swiss people
Alcohol per capita consumption has been declining in Switzerland in recent years. It seems the COVID-19 crisis has further strengthened this trend.
Most Swiss people have decided to go sober during this lockdown. It is believed partly to be because the isolation measures provided an opportunity to people to be aware of their own alcohol use habits. This recognition of how much people actually consume has led to a decrease in consumption.
Young people are especially health conscious and recognize the harms of alcohol consumption and are choosing to cut down alcohol or go alcohol-free. This trend has been seen across the world in recent years.
The new alcohol-free trend has led to an increase of 11% in the alcohol-free beer in 2020.
The lockdown probably had a positive effect on alcohol consumption in large parts of the population in the short term,” said Monique Portner-Helfer, press spokeswoman of the Swiss Addiction Foundation, as per NZZ am Sonntag.
The drop in consumption is leading alcohol producers to switch to non-alcohol range beverages. For example, instead of wine some winegrowers now produce grape juice as well.