Coronavirus shutdown has little impact on Belgian alcohol consumption levels

30 April, 2020

A study suggests that alcohol consumption has remained broadly stable during the coronavirus lockdown in Belgium.

Researchers at the University of Louvain surveyed more than 10,000 Belgians on their drinking habits this month, and found no substantial increase or decrease in reported alcohol consumption.

Almost 46% said they are drinking the same amount of alcohol as they were before the lockdown began. A further 29% said they were drinking less, leaving 25% of Belgians drinking more.

Bars were closed in Belgium on March 12 and they are yet to reopen. However, the off-trade is the dominant channel for volume sales in Belgium, accounting for more than half of beer volumes and more than 75% of wine and spirits volumes, according to Euromonitor.

Belgians have seemingly ramped up off-trade purchases in the wake of bar closures and kept overall volumes at a broadly similar level.

The survey from the University of Louvain suggested that male drinkers and those aged 20-40 reported the sharpest decline in consumption levels during the lockdown. Those with higher levels of education were more likely to report an increase in the amount they have been drinking, with many citing stress and anxiety as contributing factors.

“Interviewees who have increased their consumption under the lockdown are more anxious about the risks of losing a stable income or their job because of the uncertainty created by the pandemic, and family stress also appears to play a role as respondents with children tend to drink more,” said the researchers.

The study also addressed the use of other substances, noticing a decline in the consumption of tobacco (42%), cannabis (52%) and cocaine (75%).

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