U.S. Alcohol Sales Increase 55 Percent in One Week Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

In the week ending March 21, sales on alcoholic beverages have spiked by 55 percent according to market research firm Nielsen.

Hard liquors, including tequila and gin, as well as cocktails are the favorites among consumers. Sprits sales increased by 75 percent compared to the same dates in 2019. Beer is the next most popular drink, with purchases up by 66 percent, then wine, up 42 percent year-on-year.

Nielsen's vice president of beverage alcohol, Danelle Kosmal, predicted that we've probably seen the peak of consumer demand for alcohol. "I suspect that the week ending March 21st will feature the strongest growth rates that we will see during this consumer pantry-loading time," he told The Drinks Business.

"Data for the week ending 28 March will be very telling, and I think it will be a better indicator of the new normal in how consumers are responding to the crisis and their new normal, centered around the home."

Astor Wines & Spirits in Manhattan, New York, has closed its walk-in store and now only offers deliveries. While it couldn't put an exact figure on the growth of its recent sales, the company is certainly experiencing a surge in sales across the board on all products.

"We have a physical store, but we don't allow customers to come into the store, to walk around and shop. They can only place deliveries which are driving a big increase [in sales]," Rob Fischer, CEO of Astor Wines & Spirits in Manhattan told Newsweek.

"Our delivery business is very strong," continued Fischer, "bars and restaurants are closed so there's no other real place to get alcohol and people are stuck at home with time on their hands so they're making more lavish meals and would like to enjoy a nice bottle of wine with it."

Liquor store
Different types of Kentucky bourbon, one of the many spirits being sold during the coronavirus. Alcohol sales have increased amid the coronavirus pandemic. John Sommers II//Getty Images

Trends like virtual parties and happy hours have only added to the need to purchase alcohol for home consumption, explained Fischer: "I know there are some people doing virtual happy hours, maybe they need wine for that, and people are not comfortable going out, so if they can get a delivery they'd like to do that." Other products to have a recent sales surge include toilet roll, hand sanitizer, and pasta.

New York is one of many states across the U.S. enforcing social distancing regulations due to coronavirus. Temporary public closures include restaurants, bars and other social spaces serving alcohol, plus theaters, bowling alleys, amusement parks, and malls.

Due to COVID-19, the majority of Americans are currently under a stay-at-home order. States with the strictest social distancing measures in place include New York, California, Connecticut, Washington, Rhode Island, Alaska, Colorado, Vermont, Michigan, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Nevada, Hawaii. In Maine, violators of the "Stay Healthy at Home Mandate" are subject to up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Currently, New York has the most confirmed cases of Coronavirus, with more than 76,000 cases and 1,700 deaths, followed by New Jersey with 19,000 cases and 265 deaths, then California with 8,500 cases and 180 deaths.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice:

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.

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