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Booze bonanza for shops masks drinking downturn

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:47s - Published
Booze bonanza for shops masks drinking downturn

Booze bonanza for shops masks drinking downturn

Store sales of alcohol have boomed during lockdowns, but with bars and restaurants shut the drinks industry isn't celebrating.

Julian Satterthwaite reports.

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When lockdowns began, the world’s shoppers stocked up.

Not least, on booze.

Stores around the world enjoyed a surge in sales of alcohol.

One shopper in Thailand caught the mood: "You never know how long it's going to take, whether it's only 10 days or longer, so just in case I got a bottle of vodka." Sales at U.S. liquor stores are up by a quarter since early March.

UK store sales of alcohol jumped by a third that same month.

But the drinks industry isn’t celebrating.

Because the world’s bars, clubs and restaurants are shut.

In the U.S. drinking at such venues accounts for a quarter of all beer sales, and a fifth of spirits.

In Spain bars soak up 60% of all alcohol sales.

Even where lockdowns have been less absolute, social drinking is out of fashion.

In Tokyo liquor distributor Shigeru Nishizawa says the effect was immediate: "The orders that I usually expect aren't coming in anymore.

I'm getting many cancellations.

I'm handling it by calling the wholesaler and asking them to not stock up.” The bad news for the industry doesn’t end there.

A travel slump has slashed purchases of duty-free alcohol.

Pernod Ricard, maker of Absolut vodka, expects an 80% drop in its airport sales.

And with little to celebrate this year, one product might be particularly vulnerable.

Sales of sparkling wine are forecast to take a big hit.




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