Brits overall drank less alcohol than usual in the first few months of the pandemic last year, despite scenes of frenzied panic buying.
There was a fall of around 10% in England and Wales and 5% in Scotland in the second quarter of 2020, according to figures published by Public Health Scotland yesterday. But these were just averages.
“Unfortunately we know that some of us—particularly heavier drinkers— have been drinking more. We need to make support available,” wrote Alison Douglas of Alcohol Focus Scotland.
Average amounts may not have changed much but the average context has. We now drink more often alone at home to soothe anxiety or cheer ourselves up, uses in which alcohol backfires in the longer term.
This means, taking the population as a whole, the dramatic rise in the amount consumed at home was not enough to outweigh the amount they would normally drink in pubs and bars.
In England and Wales men’s drinking on average fell by just under 13% and women’s by 7%. In Scotland the falls were 7% for men and just 1% for women.
What happened in the third and fourth quarters of 2020 is currently unclear, with tax figures suggesting a rise in overall alcohol consumption and industry figures a fall. ■