Americans’ drinking habits — what they drink and how much — are about the same as they were pre-pandemic, according to new research conducted by Echelon Insights on behalf of the Beer Institute. Overall, the survey found that a majority of those polled reported drinking about the same amount of beer, and with approximately the same frequency, since the pandemic began. This is in stark contrast to the widely held assumption that people are drinking more during the pandemic.
“Many people think that over the course of the pandemic, people have been sitting at home drinking more beer than ever before, and that’s simply not the case,” said Jim McGreevy, President and CEO of the Beer Institute. “Although many news reports erroneously stated that beer consumption has increased during quarantine, the perception that people are drinking more is false. The survey results match the dramatic decline we’ve seen in retail beer sales, especially since many gathering places where draft beer is served, such as stadiums, concert venues, bars, and restaurants, had to close or were limited in their operational capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
When asked about overall alcohol consumption habits – defined as the consumption of wine, beer, and liquor or hard spirits – survey respondents reported that their drinking habits have not changed greatly since the pandemic started. While 1 in 5 respondents reported drinking more, nearly the same amount also reported drinking less. Nearly 60 percent of respondents reported no change in their drinking habits since the pandemic began. These results are in line with other public polling from 2020 that showed most Americans reported drinking about the same during quarantine, including IUPUI, Morning Consult and YouGov.
“Even though many Americans may think the pandemic caused an uptick in alcohol consumption, when asked about their own behavior, they don’t think their own habits have changed much, either in terms of the quantity or the frequency with which they choose to drink. The disconnect between people’s own actions and what they think others have done during the pandemic is striking,” said Kristin Soltis Anderson, president and co-founder of Echelon Insights.
An independent economic analysis released by the Beer Institute last year found that the pandemic resulted in a nearly $20 billion loss in retail beer sales. Overall, more than 561,000 U.S. jobs that depend on America’s beer industry have been lost because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of these jobs were in retail establishments like bars and restaurants that faced severe restrictions or closed altogether due to the pandemic.
“Hardworking Americans who are employed by the hospitality sector — such as our community restaurants, neighborhood bars, and local breweries — have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said McGreevy. “The beer industry is integral to their livelihoods, and when it’s safe to do so, we look forward to welcoming Americans back to their favorite bars and restaurants to enjoy a beer in the company of friends and family.”
The findings presented here are from a nationally representative survey of registered voters aged 21+ fielded March 1-4, 2021 by Echelon Insights. The survey was conducted via online interviews, sampled from the voter-file matched panel hosted by Dynata, a leading global survey partner. The data was weighted to known demographic and voter turnout characteristics of the registered voter population derived from U.S. Census Bureau estimates and the voter file.