With bars, clubs, and restaurants across the UK closing down, sales of alcoholic drinks went down in 2020. Overall, 2020 was a year when British drinkers bought less alcohol than they usually would. The WSTA (Wine and Spirit Trade Association) will release a report showing that beer sales fell by 10% and wine sales fell by 5%.
The trade lost by hospitality venues has been picked up by supermarkets who enjoyed a surge in alcohol demand during the last year. From September to November, supermarkets saw a three-fold increase in alcohol sales compared with the same period in 2019.
The increase in online orders of alcoholic beverages has not been enough to make up for the revenue lost by the hospitality sector, as overall sales of alcohol during the pandemic were lower than before it. It raised concerns that the surge in online drink orders might not be dispersed among customers throughout the country but could be driven by a specific segment of society whose drinking is motivated by stress and anxiety.
The increase in online drink orders matches the overall trend of increased online orders in the UK. It is also in line with global trends, as there has been a 40% increase in online alcohol orders worldwide, amounting to $17bn in 2020 and projected to reach $40bn by 2024.
Concerned that some people might be having too much alcohol, supermarkets have addressed the problem of online orders by stopping delivery drivers from giving alcohol to people already drunk or minors.
The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) is coordinating this stricter control on online drink orders. Delivery services, large retailers, and some of the biggest drink brands have joined hands together to make this a reality.
Delivery drivers and staff who deliver drinks and food to the door are being trained to recognize signs of intoxication. If someone looks too young to be ordering alcohol, delivery people have to ID them. Just like pub owners can refuse alcohol to someone who has had too much, the delivery staff has to decide if someone is sober enough to receive the drink ordered.
Staff is also being taught to deescalate situations and prevent trouble if the customers get dissatisfied or angry at being reduced alcohol. Employers are also supposed to ensure that delivery drivers do not face disincentives like non-payments when they don’t make a delivery to someone they think is drunk.