Provisional Revenue receipts demonstrate the durability of the Irish alcohol market despite COVID-19 crisis.

Alcohol Action Ireland, the independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, today (30 July) noted the latest provisional alcohol receipts from Revenue. The data highlights that despite all licenced premises being closed since the 15th March, alcohol sales experienced only a modest reduction. This indicates that Ireland’s alcohol users substituted most of their drinking from regulated licenced premises to a largely unregulated, ‘free-flowing’ consumption in the home.

The provisional data shows that Beer retained 87% of its market, Spirits held firm with a modest 0.005% growth, Wine surged with a 10.4% growth while cider retained 93% of its sales, and all despite the On-Trade (pubs, clubs, licensed premises) being closed.

This further confirms Alcohol Action Ireland’s concerns that significantly higher levels of alcohol has being pouring into homes throughout the country throughout the pandemic crisis. This shift in consumption patterns is deeply concerning because of the lasting damage on the user and the impact of harm to others.

Equally, this data brings into sharp contrast the protestations of the alcohol producers, who in seeking to convince government of their demise, said:

“There has been a perception that people are drinking more as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, but these figures clearly show that this is not the case, with overall sales down by just under 36%.’ (2 June)

Commenting on the provisional data, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications at Alcohol Action, said:

‘While this data on alcohol receipts is provisional, it does however confirm precisely what has been our concern that people are drinking a great deal more at home now. Already, in Ireland, 200,000 children each day have to navigate a domestic environment where parental alcohol misuse is the primary source of a life-long trauma. The failure to introduce meaningful measure to curb this excessive consumption, at a time when there should have a significant reduction, will prove consequences as many will find that temporary lifestyles change become permanent habits. 

 In the recent campaign by the alcohol industry to have VAT on alcohol products reduced, they estimated that 75% of all alcohol products were consumed in the On-Trade licenced premises; this data from Revenue clearly clarifies that this is simply not the case, and that during the most restrictive period of the COVID lockdown Ireland’s alcohol users continued to purchase 93% of their regular consumption.”