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Alcohol sales and consumption in Scotland during the early stages of the COVID-19 - study Published Date: 17/02/2021

The context of the study: In the weeks following the declaration of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the governments of the UK and its constituent nations acted to control the spread of the virus by introducing various measures to encourage physical distancing. These included the closure of licensed alcohol (on-trade) premises (such as pubs, clubs and restaurants) on 21 March 2020, and a government-enforced lockdown of all non-essential business and travel began on 23 March 2020. Following these closures, some on-trade premises remained open for takeaway sales, however the majority of on-trade sales ceased untilthe easing of restrictions in July 2020.

Findings of the study include:

  • In the early months of 2020, total alcohol sales in Scotland were lower than for the same weeks of 2017–19, whereas sales in England & Wales remained similar to the 2017–19 average
  • There was evidence of stockpiling around the time on-trade premises were required to close across the UK (21 March 2020)
  • Total weekly alcohol sales (Litres (L) of pure alcohol per adult, on- and off-trade combined) in Scotland and England & Wales in the first 28 weeks of 2020
  • There was evidence of alcohol consumption shifting to later in the evening in both Scotland and England, and fewer weekday drinking occasions starting before 17:00
  • There were increases in solitary alcohol consumption in both countries, but to a larger extent in Scotland.