Commonwealth Bank figures show Easter alcohol sales fell sharply this year compared to 2019, countering a recent poll that suggested Australians were drinking more during home isolation.
Alcohol Beverages Australia chief executive Andrew Wilsmore told The Brisbane Times there is usually a lift in alcohol sales – both in the off and on-premise – in the week before Easter.
But this year’s figures for the week ending April 10 (Good Friday) show total alcohol sales by dollar value were down 13% on a year ago.
While the dollar value of bottle shop sales was 22% higher, all other alcohol services were down 72%.
Analysis of credit and debit card transactions by Commonwealth Bank shows bottle shop sales were up 86% year on year during panic buying three weeks ago. However, alcohol spending in bottle shops is now just 23% higher than usual.
“Spending on alcohol had been holding up because of the spike in sales at bottle shops,” Commonwealth Bank head of Australian economics Gareth Aird said. “But alcohol spend has since rolled over as the unprecedented drop in spending at hotels, pubs and bars far outweighs the lift in sales at bottle shops.”
YouGov says Aussies are drinking more
The Commonwealth Bank stats are at odds with national polling by YouGov Galaxy, commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).
According to the YouGov stats, one in five Aussies have purchased more alcohol than usual during the pandemic, and the majority are drinking more.
It said that 20% of people are buying more alcohol, and 70% of them are drinking more than normal.
However, Alcoholic Beverages Australia said it did not agree that Australians were drinking more during the pandemic.
Wilsmore told ABC News: “Our beer, wine and spirits-producing members are all telling us that the loss of sales from the closure of bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants has only marginally been made up for by an increase in packaged retail liquor sales.”