New data from Roy Morgan confirms that alcohol industry’s heavy marketing in Australia during the pandemic has increased their sales and profits. Unfortunately this means a hit for public health with effects which can last longer than COVID-19.

The data show that packaged alcohol sales rose quickly during the early and middle parts of 2020.

  • Over the full year of 2020 nearly 6 million Australians bought packaged alcohol in an average seven days.
  • A vast majority of 88.6% bought alcohol from stores even during the pandemic. There was a 5.8% reduction of in store sales from 2019 to 2020. However, online, over the phone and other sales more than made up for this.
  • 11.3% of Australians bought alcohol online in 2020. This was a major increase of 7.9% from 2019 figures which was at 3.5%.
  • Online alcohol sales peaked in September 2020 at 15.4%, but even after relaxed restrictions this was maintained at a 12% still significantly higher than 2019.
  • Australians between 35 to 49 years were most likely to buy alcohol online. Both men and women purchased online almost equally.
  • A further 2.5% (up 1.6% points) of Australian packaged alcohol buyers bought alcohol by phone and 1.3% (up 1% point) bought alcohol some other way.
increase in online sales of packaged alcohol
11.3% of Australians bought alcohol online in 2020. This was a major increase of 7.9% from 2019 figures which was at 3.5%.

Liquor outlets are benefitting from the increase in online sale of packaged alcohol. The average spent buying liquor online in a week is $124 compared to only $71 when buying in store. A difference of over $50.

The data from Roy Morgan is in line with previous data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that alcohol sales increased sharply from 2019 to 2020. According to the bureau, alcohol retail sales grew only $195 million between 2018 and 2019 but soared by 27% between 2019 and 2020, growing by $3.3 billion more.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) explains that predatory marketing of the alcohol industry during the pandemic is the cause for the rise in alcohol sales. 

During COVID-19 we’ve seen alcohol retailers and online delivery companies engage in prolific marketing that promotes using alcohol as a way to cope during the pandemic,” said Caterina Giorgi, Chief Executive of FARE, as per Yahoo News

Caterina Giorgi, chief executive, FARE

Research by FARE and the Cancer Council WA found that Australians were exposed to an alcohol advertisement every 35 seconds on Facebook and Instagram. 

The alcohol industry perversely used the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis as the largest global marketing campaign to drive consumption even higher and increase their profits at the cost of people’s health and well-being. Governments around the world have largely failed to protect their people by using evidence-based alcohol policy solutions as part of the response to COVID-19

Already Australia’s is seeing the negative effects of the rise in alcohol use. Family violence services are seeing an increase in alcohol-related family violence. Alcohol and other drug treatment services are also seeing more people reach out for help with alcohol.

FARE calls on the Australian government to implement the following policy solutions to safeguard citizens from Big Alcohol’s practices: 

  • Improving the rules around the currently largely unregulated alcohol marketing,
  • Limiting late night and rapid online alcohol delivery, and
  • Boosting investment in alcohol and other drug services to help reduce alcohol-fuelled harm.

Source Website: Roy Morgan