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Fears of Brits binge drinking through lockdown unfounded, says Portman Group

Published:  05 June, 2020

The majority of Brits are drinking the same or less compared to before lockdown, with a large majority remaining within the UK chief medical officers’ (CMO) low risk guidelines (14 units per week), according to new research released today by the Portman Group.  

And, even among those drinking more, close to half remain within these guidelines, the survey revealed.

Prior to lockdown, 75% of UK adults said they either did not drink or drank within the CMO’s guidelines. In comparison, since lockdown, two thirds of Brits who drank alcohol before the lockdown (65% of UK drinkers) said they are drinking the same, less or stopped drinking altogether (38%, 22% and 5% respectively).

Of the 35% of drinkers who said they are drinking more, 28% said “a little more” and 7% “a lot more”, with the majority of drinkers remaining within 14 units.

The findings are echoed in a separate survey for the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, which also shows that half of Brits expect to maintain their new reduced drinking habits, and that socialising in pubs, bars and restaurants only ranks behind socialising with friends and family in terms of the things they miss about pre-lockdown life. 

The surveys were “further proof that fears of Brits binge drinking through lockdown are unfounded", said John Timothy, chief executive, Portman Group

“However, we must be mindful that there remains a minority who continue to drink at hazardous levels and have actually increased their consumption, and we join with other organisations in calling for those struggling to be given the professional support they need.”

Like so many others in the UK, Timothy said he looked forward to returning to pubs and restaurants in the coming months. But also urge people to make sure they continue to “drink responsibly and respect the social distancing measures in place in order to protect themselves and those around them”.

The Portman findings are based on a YouGov survey of 2070 UK adults conducted for the Portman Group. It follows a BrandTrack survey from CGA released at the beginning of May which suggested consumers were shunning alcoholic drinks during the Covid-19 crisis.