August 27, 2020

Alcohol supply dropped over lockdown

The availability of alcoholic beverages decreased 5.4 percent between the first quarter (Q1) and second quarters (Q2) of 2020 to 7.30 million litres (m/l). This is the lowest volume since Q1 of 2014 (7.11 m/l). This decrease was largely due to a decline in the availability of spirits (0.56 m/l), with a smaller drop in the availability of beer (0.25 m/l). On the other hand, wine (including cider) availability increased by 0.39 m/l, with the highest overall Q2 volume to date.

There are seasonal trends in the figures for Q1 and Q2, as well as the fourth quarter (Q4). For many decades, the volume of alcohol available has peaked in Q4 with the onset of summer and the Christmas break, with Q1 usually having between 20-30 percent less alcohol available for consumption.

The 2020 Q2 changes in supply are likely to have been caused by restricted availability of liquor during the alert level 4 lockdown. Previous to the lockdown, the volume of spirits and high-strength craft beers available for consumption had been steadily trending upwards

The reduction in the overall volume is most likely to reflect the impact of the lockdown on the hospitality and tourism sectors, rather than any reductions in consumption. Electronic card spending for hospitality food and beverage fell 95 percent ($814 million) in April 2020, as restaurants, cafes, and bars took a hit.

There’s evidence that alcohol supply has an impact on alcohol consumption. Research found New Zealanders were generally responsible drinkers over the lockdown, with around one-third not drinking at all and one-third drinking less. Of those who did have a drink, half drank the same amount as they usually did. However, one fifth reported drinking more.

Note: StatsNZ alcohol statistics are compiled from figures on alcoholic beverages produced for local consumption, on which duty is paid, and imports less re-exports. The statistics provide information on the volume of alcoholic beverages released to the domestic market.