During the start of the economic lockdown and self-isolation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. alcohol sales increased 55 percent in one week.
During the third week of March this year when much of the self-isolation and government-ordered lockdowns began. Off-premises alcohol sales were up 55% from last year according to data reported by Nielsen, an international measurement and data analytics. The increased number of sales could continue well into the lockdown but could decrease as many states begin to open for business again. The increases were most significant for spirits, with sales rising 75%, followed by wine sales increasing by 66%, and beer sales increasing by 34%. Online growth rates grew faster than in-store purchases. Online sales grew 243% during the last week of March of this year. Wine continues to dominate online sales with an increase of 71% from last year.
The increased measures of social distancing at the end of March and beginning of April this year caused the increase in online sales as public health officials urged residents to stay home. In an effort to adapt to the pandemic, restaurants capitalized, offering alcohol off-sales along with food take out. The closure of restaurants and bars does not mean alcohol stops flowing. “We were seeing stories about bars capitalizing by hosting chat rooms and online happy hours for their patrons,” said Marcel Gemme, president of Drug Rehab Services. “We noticed at the beginning of the lockdowns; there was an online trend of virtual cocktail hours being hosted on social media. It is worrisome to think that many people were likely drinking more alcohol due to stress and feeling pressured to do so by others.”
Stress during COVID-19 can lead to more alcohol consumption
The combination of the on-going pandemic, government intervention, stay at home orders, and economic fallout means conditions are tailor-made for excessive alcohol consumption.
“It is not easy for people right now. Stress, boredom, and coping with kids at home, social stress, work stress, financial stress, and the on-going threat of the disease,” said Marcel “It does not surprise me there was a big increase in sales during the start of the lockdowns as people felt fear and stockpiled alcohol.”
Marcel says he is more concerned about the potential of new alcohol addictions emerging as the lockdowns begin to ease up, along with those who are in recovery relapsing. These issues, coupled with the increase in opioid-related overdose deaths seen around the same time, is a dangerous combination. The owner of Drug Rehab Services went on to emphasize the need to take advantage of online virtual groups and online therapy, which many treatment centers are offering. Outpatient and inpatient programs and even Alcoholics Anonymous have adapted to provide more virtual help. Also, recreating order in life through daily routine and providing your support to others in need is an excellent step to take to prevent relapse.