Scots drank less alcohol during first four months of pandemic, finds research

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SCOTS cut their alcohol consumption during the first four months of the pandemic, according to new research.

The total volume of pure alcohol sold per adult dropped by 6%, according to Public Health Scotland.

Despite a big increase in alcohol sales at supermarkets and off-licences of 28%, this was more than offset by a reduction in sales at pubs and clubs.

Picture of beer being poured - Business News Scotland
Sales of beer took a particularly big hit as pubs and clubs were shut by the pandemic

The research found that Scots still drank too much over the period, however.

Adults north of the border down an average of 17.5 units a week, above the guideline of 14 units.

The researchers from Glasgow University and Public Health Scotland also examined the impact of the pandemic on types of alcohol.

There was a 23% reduction in beer sales, largely due to the fact half of all sales are made in pubs and clubs.

Wine sales increased by 4% in Scotland while sales of spirits remained the same.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “Prior to COVID-19 we were already a nation of home-drinkers with almost three-quarters of all alcohol bought in Scotland sold in the off-trade.

“This data shows that, with on sales closed during the first lockdown, much – but not all – of the alcohol we would have consumed in bars and restaurants was replaced by off-sales purchases from shops.”

Douglas said it was encouraging that in total we drank less.

She added: “But we know that for some of us our drinking has become more of a problem during the pandemic as we struggle with isolation and stress.

“Alcohol Focus Scotland’s own polling showed around one third of drinkers reported cutting down or stopped drinking while around one third had increased.

“Worryingly, those that had increased tended to be those who were already drinking more heavily.

“Stress has been a key factor for many, with people using alcohol as a coping mechanism.”