The Portman Group has urged UK drinkers to maintain their responsible approach to alcohol consumption through the bank holiday period and to avoid any temptation to go overboard.  Portman Group Chief Executive John Timothy said:

‘This is a special weekend for many people across the UK and it’s sad that our pubs – so often at the heart of special occasions in our communities – won’t be open for the VE Day 75 celebrations.

‘Nevertheless, we’d urge people to ensure celebrations take place in the right way – respect the lockdown, drink sensibly and in moderation and avoid the urge to overdo it.’

Prior to the lockdown nearly four in five drinkers stayed within the CMO 14 unit guidelines. Since the lockdown studies show that the vast majority of Britons continue to drink the same or less than before the lockdown. Between 24% and 42% of respondents to various studies have reported they were drinking less.

Despite retail sales of alcohol having increased, it has failed to match the drop-in sales in pubs. This overall reduction in alcohol purchased supports a series of studies which show that the vast majority of Britons continue to drink the same or less than before the lockdown.

We expect that more adults than before will enjoy a low alcohol or no alcohol beer or spirit as part of the online celebrations. Figures from Kantar for the Grocer show that sales of low and no alcohol products at supermarkets and off-licences have leapt 18% compared to the first quarter of 2020 and are up 40% compared to 2019, as consumers also stock up on these products as part of continuing responsible drinking habits.

Excessive alcohol consumption is dangerous and should not be downplayed. People drinking at hazardous levels need professional support to overcome what are often multi-faceted challenges. Those people concerned about their drinking, or about the drinking of someone around them, should seek help from a health professional or visit and the NHS for free support and practical advice.

Notes to editors:

  1. John Timothy is available for broadcast interviews on request.
  2. The Portman Group is the alcohol industry regulator and social responsibility body. It has over 130 Code signatories from producers, retailers and membership bodies.
  3. The Portman Group is funded by eleven member companies: Asahi UK Ltd; Aston Manor Cider; Bacardi; Brown-Forman; Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I; Carlsberg UK; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Mast-Jäegermeister UK; Pernod Ricard UK and SHS Drinks.
  4. Statistics on drinking figures are drawn from the following surveys:
  • An initial survey from consumer insights agency CGA showed that 42% of respondents reported they were drinking less and 14% said they were drinking more, implying that 44% were drinking the same as before lockdown. Furthermore, 37% said they were drinking less often, while 16% said they were drinking more often. (3 April – 500 sample size)
  • A survey on homeworker wellbeing from the Institute for Employment Studies showed that 20% of respondents reported increased alcohol consumption, implying 80% were drinking the same or less. (7 April – 500 sample)
  • YouGov showed that 81% of British drinkers were drinking the same (57%) or less (24%) since lockdown. With the remaining 17% drinking more, but only 1% of which reporting ‘much more’ and 16% ‘a bit more’. Those aged 18-24 were both most likely to drink more (25%) and less (28%) when compared to other age groups. (8 April – unclear sample size)
  • An Alcohol Change UK / Opinium survey showed that 35% of British drinkers were drinking less often or had stopped drinking altogether and 21% reported drinking more often, implying 44% are drinking the same. Looking more closely, it appears that declines are being driven by the majority of drinkers who already drink less often and within Government guidelines, whilst the increase seems to be driven by those already drinking at more harmful levels. (16 April – 2,000 sample)
  • A further survey from CGA of 5,000 adults shows that 83% of Brits report drinking the same (46%), less (28%) or cutting out alcohol completely (9%), although 17% report drinking more than usual. Furthermore, nearly half (45%) of those who typically drink out weekly report drinking less than usual or cutting out alcohol altogether, with 20% reporting an increase in consumption. (1 May)
  1. Alcohol sales data are drawn from the ONS showing a 31.4% increase in alcohol volume sales in March 2020. These increased retail sales are more than offset by a collapse in sales in pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants all shuttered by the lockdown. Just taking beer as an example, sales in pubs slumped 40% in March compared to the same period last year, whilst sales in supermarkets and off-licences grew 10.6%, with overall beer sales down by 12.7% compared to last year.