Roy Morgan Research
May 18, 2020

Australians continue to drink less alcohol

Topic: Press Release
Finding No: 8406
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New data from Roy Morgan’s Alcohol Consumption Report shows the proportion of Australians who drink alcohol continues to decline, despite recent media coverage of panic buying during the Coronavirus lockdown. A deeper dive into Roy Morgan Single Source data shows drinking at home is tightly correlated to age and the older you are the more likely you are to mostly drink alcohol at home.

A total of 66.3% (13,073,000) of Australians aged 18+ in the year to March 2020 consume alcohol in an average four-week period, down from 67.5% (13,102,000) twelve months ago.

Spirits was the only alcohol category whose consumption increased year-on-year rising from 26.3% (5,099,000) to 28.7% (5,671,000).

Wine drinking decreased from 42.8% (8,303,000) to 41.0% (8,096,000). Beer fell from 38.2% (7,409,000) to 37.6% (7,413,000). Cider dropped from 11.4% (2,210,000) to 10.7% (2,114,000). Ready-to-drinks (RTDs) remained unchanged on 10.8% (2,138,000). Liqueurs fell from 6.5% (1,265,000) to 5.8% (1,148,000) and Fortified Wine dropped from 4.9% (960,000) to 4.2% (827,000).

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says that despite some concern about the effect the COVID-19 lockdown might have on alcohol consumption, particularly after a run on bottle shops in March, overall consumption is decreasing.

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“Our data shows a consistent decline in Australians’ alcohol consumption. Looking back to 2006, 73.5% of the adult population were regular drinkers. That has dropped to 66.3% in the 12 months to March 2020, which represents a large number of people who no longer choose to consume alcohol regularly,” Ms. Levine said.

People surveyed were also asked about their attitudes towards alcohol and nearly two-thirds of Australian drinkers (65.4%) agree they ‘drink alcohol mostly at home’ with a greater proportion of men (67.3%) than women (63.5%) agreeing.

Across age groups, it is drinkers aged 65+ who are most likely to agree they ‘drink alcohol mostly at home’ (71.8%). They are followed by those aged 50-64 (70%), then 35-49 (67.2%), 25-34 (59.3%) and 18-24 (49.2%).

“During the early stages of the COVID-19 lockdown, the panic buying of large quantities of alcohol prompted understandable concern from health authorities and saw the introduction of buying limits. However, it’s likely the alcohol bought was simply a substitute for alcohol which people would otherwise have been consumed at venues, or simply stocking up ‘just in case’, rather than an overall increase,”  Ms. Levine said.

The findings are from the Roy Morgan Single Source survey, Australia’s most trusted and comprehensive consumer survey, derived from in-depth interviews with 50,000 Australians each year.

Proportion of Australians who consume alcohol in an average four-week period

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, Apr. 2018- Mar 2019, n= 16,276. Apr. 2019-Mar. 2020, n= 14,632. Base: Australians aged 18+.

Proportion of Australian drinkers who agree they ‘drink alcohol mostly at home’

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, April 2019 – March 2020, n= 13,208. Base: Australians aged 18+ who consumed alcohol in the past four weeks.

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Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

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