UK drinking habits change as we all stay home

Robyn Black

Robyn Black

06 April 2020

New figures from on-trade data firm CGA and retailer Master of Malt suggest our tipples of choice are changing as lockdown continues

Spirits and wine are the winners when it comes to drinking at home.

A snap poll by CGA found that the type of drink that people are purchasing has changed as we are forced to stay indoors, with spirits – especially gin and whiskey – gaining in popularity. Among those buying drink online, the top choice was wine with 40% ordering some. Lager came next and then gin.

'In a pub and bar environment, cider would usually come in third, but in the online world it has slipped back. The big winner, however, seems to be whiskey, which is the fourth most popular category for online purchases, but in a pub or bar would normally be back in ninth place,' said Jonny Jones, CGA’s director of client services.

'The challenge for the on-trade will be whether these new habits persist when pubs and bars eventually reopen after the crisis, or whether the public will go back to old preferences,' Jones added.

For online drinks shop Master of Malt (which specialises in spirits) customers are choosing more beers, pre-bottled cocktails and wine than before.

‘Beer has leapfrogged to third place as volumes soar, dominating six of the top 10 best-selling SKU places,’ said general manager Jason Hockman.

'There has also been increased retail sales of pre-bottled cocktails, bitters and vermouth, as people try and recreate a bar drinking experience with at-home serves.’

Overall the company has experienced an increase in orders of almost 200% between 23 and 29 March, the first week that the stricter social distancing measures came into force in the UK.

This echoes figures also released by CGA, which revealed that 6% of people had ordered alcohol online more often than usual, another 5% had bought online for the first time, and a further 16% are planning to do so in the coming weeks.

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