< Back to news 19 October, 2017

Sober October or just, plain sober? Nearly half of Brits drinking less than last year

It seems that Brits have found it easier than ever to go sober this October, with new research showing that nearly half of the UK are drinking less than this time last year[1].
What’s more, insight from AB InBev has found that 21,000 drink-led venues have closed in the last 10 years, suggesting a changing landscape in the out-of-home drinking market.

  • 44% of Brits are drinking less when going out than this time last year
  • Price of alcoholic drinks and health reasons are the two main factors
  • 21,000 drink-led venues have closed in the last 10 years


The research by Beacon, Britain’s leading purchasing company, found that drinking less was most prevalent amongst the over 55s (48%), followed closely by 18-24 year olds (45%). It was also found that the biggest influences for the decline in drinking were the rising cost of alcoholic drinks[2] and health reasons[3].

Scotland and the South East are the top regions that are drinking less than last year, with over half of the respondents in Scotland saying their alcohol intake has dramatically reduced[4]. These figures could be due in part to the lowering of Scotland’s drink-drive limit in December 2014, which is currently set below the rest of the UK.


The top regions drinking less are:

1) Scotland (50.6%)

2) South East (50.6%)

3) Northern Ireland (50%)

4) East Midlands (46.7%)

4) South West (46.6%)

Paul Connelly, Beacon MD, commented: “The research highlights the seismic shift sweeping the nation with people moving away from traditional tipples of the past Paul Connelly, MD Beaconand reflecting new trends such as healthy (and thriftier!) living. These changing trends are naturally forcing companies and high street businesses to become more savvy and inventive with their drinks offering, and adapt their menus accordingly to survive. We predict a continued rise in the importance of non-alcoholic drinks, lower alcohol alternatives and healthier drink choices as we move into 2018.”

“Also notable was the decrease in out-of-home drinking being most prevalent in Scotland, given the major impact that the change in drink drive legislation has had since its introduction, when we found that hospitality businesses in Scotland reported a drop in alcohol sales of as much as 90%[5].”

“Whilst it may seem a worrying time for operators, it is important for them to now consider different ways of retaining sales. For example, by expanding their food offerings, extending their range of non-alcoholic beverages or considering more price-led offers and promotions, given that pricing was the number one reason for people drinking less.”


[1] http://www.beaconpurchasing.co.uk/news-events/article/2016/11/11/drink-drive-legislation-changing-limits-affects-sales

[3] 48.4% of respondents over 55 years old and 45.2% of 18-24 year olds stated that they were drinking less alcohol out of home than they were 12 months ago.

[4] 41.8% of respondents stated the rising cost of alcoholic drinks influences them to drink less alcohol out of home and 36.4% of respondents stated health reasons influences them to drink less alcohol out of home.

[5] 50.6% of respondents in Scotland stated that they were drinking less alcohol out of home than they were 12 months ago.