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Dry January leads to increased drinking

‘Enforced abstinence’ is causing British consumers to drink more in the months following Dry January to ‘make up for lost time’.

Dry January
The Dry January initiative launched in 2013

Charity Alcohol Change UK launched the Dry January campaign in 2013 to encourage drinkers to abstain from alcohol for a month. A recent survey commissioned by Alcohol Change revealed that one in six UK consumers plan to moderate their alcohol consumption during January 2023.

According to research by ID Crypt Global, which analysed ONS sales data since the Dry January initiative began, the average spend across Britain on alcohol, beverage and tobacco is £278.3 million (US$338.9m) per month.

December was found to have the highest spend on alcohol, beverages and tobacco, coming in at £427.5m (US$520.6m) throughout the month, while January is seen to have the lowest average spend of £202m (US$246m).

Sales are shown to spike in the months following January, with a 49% increase in monthly spend from January to March.

However, the data prior to the launch of Dry January indicates that consumers were already taking a break from alcohol following the festive holidays.

Between 2003 and 2012, retail sales for alcohol, beverages and tobacco averaged £350.7m (US$427.1m) per month, 21% higher than the monthly average seen today, with the average retail spend in January sitting at £288.4m (US$278.1m).

The average monthly retail spend on alcohol and tobacco was seen to increase by 5.7% between January and February.

Since 2013, this gap has widened to 10.1%.

‘Generational shift’ 

CEO and founder of ID Crypt Global, Lauren Wilson-Smith, commented: “As a nation, we’re consuming considerably less alcohol and tobacco and this is down to a combination of a more moderate approach to drinking, a greater understanding of the health implications, as well as a generational shift in social behaviour.

“You’d need only look at the longevity of the Dry January campaign to see that we’ve become more conscious about our consumption and the impact it can have on our minds and bodies.

“Of course, whether you partake in Dry January or not, the vast majority of us will take some form of break from boozing following what is often an overly indulgent Christmas period. So it’s no surprise that January has always seen the lowest level of alcohol sales.

“However, since the launch of Dry January, the gap between alcohol and tobacco sales in January versus the immediate months following has widened quite considerably. This suggests that any benefit of partaking is momentary, as we white knuckle our way through the month before hitting the bottle even harder than we may have otherwise.”

We rounded up 10 of the best initiatives taking place during Dry January.

An expert from the London Doctors Clinic has shared the impact Dry January has on the body.

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