Drinking during lockdown - Opinium survey data tables

7 May 2020

We have published more recent research into drinking habits during lockdown (3 July 2020). Read the headline results.

In April 2020 Alcohol Change UK commissioned research from Opinium to find out whether people’s drinking habits have changed during locking, following the UK Government’s introduction of stringent new measures to manage the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

As our daily lives were changed in an instant, new sales data showed a spike in alcohol sales, the government announced that off-licences were permitted to stay open, and media coverage showed stacks of empty alcohol shelves in supermarkets across the country as people dashed to stock up. But what was really happening? Were people actually drinking more during lockdown or were they stocking up for fear of later shortages?

Here we share the key findings for the UK. We also worked with Alcohol Focus Scotland and Balance North East to conduct booster surveys for Scotland, Wales and the North East. The full data tables for each of these are being made available to share the evidence and allow for further analysis by anyone wishing to investigate more. These can be downloaded from the links below.

The key findings show:

  • More than one in five (21%) adults who drink alcohol are drinking more often since lockdown
  • More than one in three of those who drink (35%) have reduced how often they drink or stopped drinking altogether
  • More than one in three (38%) of drinkers or past drinkers said that they are taking active steps to manage their drinking
  • Nearly half (47%) of people who drank once a week or less have cut down or stopped drinking, compared to just over a quarter (27%) of people who drank two to six times a week, and just one in five (17%) daily drinkers.
  • Nearly one in five (18%) daily drinkers have further increased the amount they drink.

These figures suggest that 8.6 million adults in the UK are drinking more frequently since lockdown, while 14 million are drinking less often or have stopped drinking entirely.

We are pleased to share the full data tables from the Opinium survey. There are 2,010 UK responses. The booster surveys, supported by Alcohol Focus Scotland and Balance North East, achieved a total sample of just over 500 responses each from Scotland, Wales and the North East. The England tables are taken from the UK sample.

We welcome additional analysis of these tables and request that you credit Alcohol Change UK and Opinium if you share findings publicly. If you have any questions about the survey please contact Lucy Holmes at [email protected].

Nations and regions

We worked with Alcohol Focus Scotland and Balance North East to poll additional samples for Scotland, Wales and the North East of England.

The data tables for the nations and regions surveys can be downloaded here: