Increased alcohol sales in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic
By March 22nd, 2020, just one week after many organizations and businesses started preparing for social distancing measures, there was a 55% increase in alcohol sales in the United States. Compared to this week last year in 2019, the market saw a:
-75% increase in the sales of hard liquors such as tequila and gin
-66% increase in the sale of wine
-42% increase in the sale of beer
Online sales had far higher numbers than in-store sales, with projections for even higher numbers as consumers rushed to stockpile their homes before proposed stay-at-home mandates went into effect .
New data projects that approximately 30% of consumers who purchased alcohol online during the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to do so. Convenience could be the leading reason for this. Not only have online sales spiked (no pun intended), but the average order size has increased by 22%. This tells us that consumers are drinking more than before.
What does increased alcohol sales mean for women’s health and safety?
Let’s start with asking the question, who is more likely to use alcohol to cope? Well that would be women, according to Dr. Parker Jones, of the 7 Domains of Women’s Health, women are facing a tremendous amount of stress during this time. There is fear and uncertainty in many avenues. Stressors that arise during this time may be attributed to loss/uncertainty of unemployment, having to home school children, caring for sick family members, inability to pay bills, social isolation from other family members and friends, being an essential worker, fear of contracting COVID-19…etc. While these stressors can affect men and women alike, women are more likely to seek relief and use alcohol to cope with feelings of depression and anxiety .
Women with full-time jobs, spouses and children are spending about 71 hours per week on child-care, household duties and chores, and elder care, compared to men who are spending about 51 hours per week on the same duties. To be honest, it’s no wonder than women are filling their wine glasses a bit more often during this time .
WHO reported that alcohol leads to both short-term and long-term effects on your body’s organs. Short-term alcohol consumption may alter the body’s normal health function, including sleep patterns and REM sleep cycles. A lack of sleep can lead to unsafe health behaviors such as, increased stress and anxiety, recklessness, more drinking, higher tensions in the home, and a higher chance of ‘snapping’ due to irritability.
CDC defines heavy drinking for women as eight or more drinks per week. Long-term heavy alcohol consumption and constant binge drinking can lead to a reduced number of white blood cells. These blood cells help fight viruses and infections, their decrease leads to a weaker immune system lowering the body’s ability to fight infectious diseases. More severely, heavy consumption of alcohol can lead to an increased risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, a symptom of COVID-19 . One thing is for certain, alcohol will not protect from COVID-19 .
What is a better way for women to cope during these times?
Alcohol is not at all a necessary part of the diet. Can one indulge every once in a while? Sure- A consenting adult over the age of 21 is allowed to drink, but women should ask themselves why they are drinking. If the answer is along the lines of boredom, stress, or to cope then we need to find a healthy alternative. One could try:
- A physical workout (indoors of course, unless you are able to socially distance yourself outside!)
- Practicing yoga or indulge in a solo dance party
- Reading a good book you haven’t had time to get to
- Journaling and practicing mindfulness
- Home improvement ideas that are easy to do yourself
- Cooking a new dish you’ve seen on social media
- Calling a friend or family member
- Learn something new about a topic you know nothing about, but find interesting
- Deleting old pictures and apps from your phone to create space (a personal favorite)
Most important during this time is for all women to remain healthy and safe!