A new report by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) examined the controls that are in place online to prevent alcoholic products from being sold to children. They found that none of the online alcohol retailers reviewed used point-of-sale age verification to confirm age. Thus, exposing children to risk of alcohol harm.

FARE has long been calling on the Australian government to keep families and children safe from the harms from online sales and delivery of alcohol. With the findings of the report they have renewed their call and Victoria’s largest child and family services provider Berry Street joined the call to action.

The checks and balances that we expect as a community to be in place to ensure that alcoholic products are not sold to children are not there when alcohol is sold online,” said Caterina Giorgi, CEO of FARE, as per their website.

For most of Australia, there are no measures in place ensuring alcohol companies verify people’s age when they buy alcoholic products online.”

Caterina Giorgi, CEO, FARE

Being able to shop online has made it harder to protect young people from buying alcohol. Governments need to do more to ensure alcoholic products cannot be sold to children, said Michael Perusco, CEO of Berry Street, as per the FARE website.

CEO of Berry Street

Movendi International has previously covered the problems with online alcohol sale and delivery in Australia.

The new report by FARE found that none of the online alcohol retailers reviewed in the report used point-of-sale age verification to confirm age.

The report shows the necessity of implementing policies to ensure children’s safety from online alcohol retail and delivery considering the rapid growth seen in the sector during COVID-19.

  • In 2020, total website visits to online alcohol retailers increased to 148 million. This was a 37 million (34%) jump in website traffic compared to 2019. This was over triple the website traffic growth seen between 2018 and 2019.
  • Out of these visits, 134 million visits were to the four largest online retailers, Dan Murphy’s and BWS, owned by Endeavour Group, and Liquorland and First Choice, owned by Coles.
  • Almost all online alcohol retail websites saw an increase in visitors of over 20%.
    • Dan Murphy’s had an increase of 39% with 22 million more views.
    • Boozebud had an increase of 94.7% with 2 million more views.

The increasing number of people visiting online alcohol retail websites during COVID-19 is not a coincidence. The alcohol industry exploited the ongoing health crisis to heavily market alcohol to people as a coping mechanism. Previous research by FARE and the Cancer Council WA found that Australians were exposed to an alcohol advertisement every 35 seconds on Facebook and Instagram. This heavy marketing led to an increase in the number of Australians who consume alcohol for the first time in four years. In turn the alcohol industry increased their revenues in online alcohol sale by 22% in 2020 amidst the pandemic. This is an increase from the average growth rate of 19.1% seen in the sector since 2016.

The latest report by FARE shows that Australian children are not safe from the predatory marketing of the alcohol industry. FARE pointed out that there are digital age verification tools which retailers can easily use at point of sale to ensure children are safe from alcohol.

Promising action was taken in November, 2020 by the New South Wales (NSW) government in Australia who closed loopholes in online alcohol delivery through reforms to the state’s alcohol policy. The new laws in NSW made it mandatory for companies to check that they’re not selling alcohol to children for deliveries made the same day.

Source Website: FARE