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Americans Are Turning To Alcohol Amid COVID-19 Lockdown

Alcohol Sales

There was perhaps a bit of already self-fulfilling prophecy in a statement last week from Belarus’  president, Alexander Lukashenko, when he said no one in ‘his’ country would die from coronavirus, which could be rendered innocuous by drowning in vodka

Yet, across the Atlantic, it would seem that there are many true believers, even if Texas-based Tito’s Handmade Vodka released a statement last month stating that its vodka would not be effective at all against COVID-19. 

“While it would be good for business for our fans to use massive quantities of Tito’s for hand sanitizer, it would be a shame to waste the good stuff, especially if it doesn’t sanitize (which it doesn’t, per the CDC),” the statement read.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, various recipes for homemade hand sanitizers using Tito’s Vodka, aloe vera and aromatic oils were circulating online, but the company said that their product did not contain the required percentage of alcohol.

However, according to  new market data, many seem to be skipping the other ingredients and going straight to the source. Alcohol sales have skyrocketed as more people stay home and bars remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nielson research shows alcoholic beverage sales increased in March, with sales up by 55% in the third week of the month compared to the same week last year.  

Sales of spirits such as tequila, gin, and pre-mixed cocktails jumped 75% compared to the same period last year.  Wine sales are up 66%, while beer sales rose 42%, the report showed. Shoppers are stocking up with one of the largest spikes being in three-liter boxes of wine, which were up 82% this week. 

However, one alcohol category is out of step with the boom in sales: high-priced champagne. Yet, that might change once the pandemic is over and there is a reason for celebration.

Most of the sales were online orders compared to in-store sales. Online alcohol sales were up an astonishing 243%, Nielsen reported. All alcohol delivery companies are witnessing a concomitant surge in demand. 

Alcohol delivery platform Drizly says it saw sales explode in the last week of March, climbing 537% above the company’s expectations. The company says new buyers on the platform jumped 900% year-over-year. Other platforms, along with the traditional food delivery companies, saw a massive increase as well.

“This is a supply chain that hasn't changed a whole lot in the 90 plus years since Prohibition was repealed,” Drizly CEO Cory Rellas told Yahoo Finance’s “On The Move.

However, outside the “Maker-Delivery company-Consumer” chain, the alcohol festival isn’t sitting well, even prompting talk of a prohibition, with calls to ban consumption during the pandemic. 

Physicians, activists and addiction experts are warning that the pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on the health of the American people. Substance abuse, a lack of physical stimulation and unhealthy diets could take a serious toll.

There has also been a simultaneous rise in domestic violence, with alcohol likely playing a role in exacerbating. With the economy tanking and families quarantined together, domestic violence rates appear to be soaring.

The Fresno, California, sheriff’s department filed 77% more domestic violence reports two weeks ago than three weeks ago. The Seattle Police Department received 614 calls in the last two weeks — 22% more than average. 

Most governors in the US have deemed liquor stores, wineries, distilleries and other providers of alcoholic beverages as essential businesses. Later on, some states eventually extended the power to restaurants, allowing them to offer alcohol as a carry-out or delivery option.

Ohio and West Virginia banned alcohol sales but only for out-of-state residents, which means they are mostly targeting residents from nearby Pennsylvania. Last month, Pennsylvania officials closed state liquor stores statewide, forcing many to travel to bordering states to replenish their liquor supplies. 

Elsewhere, in parts of Mexico, South Africa, Thailand and Greenland, government officials have banned sales of alcohol in an attempt to limit social gatherings and temper alcohol-fueled domestic violence. 

By Michael Kern for Safehaven.com 

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