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Portman research predicts “cautious return” to pubs post lockdown

Published:  08 April, 2021

Pubgoers look set to tailor some of their pre-pandemic drinking behaviours once restrictions ease, the Portman Group has said, with many planning to drink less when they return to the on-trade post-lockdown.

The research, commissioned by the social responsibility group and carried out by YouGov, aimed to show the likely behaviours of consumers once the on-trade reopens outdoors on 12 April and indoors on 17 May.

It found that around two-thirds of Brits who are planning on visiting pubs said the reason they were most looking forward to reopening was to reunite with friends and family, rather than purchasing food and drink they cannot get at home.

The second most cited reason for returning to the pub was to regain a sense of normality (57%).

Other parts of the research found that almost one in four (22%) UK drinkers said they would be visiting pubs less when they reopen. Only 14% said they planned to visit the pub more often, leaving 50% visiting with the same frequency.

Almost three in four (71%) intend to drink the same when pubs reopen, with 15% saying they plan to drink less than they did before the pandemic.

This punctures the idea of a second “roaring twenties” or return to binge drinking, said the group.

“The reopening of hospitality is an important step towards normality,” Portman Group CEO, Matt Lambert, added. “The alcohol industry is proud to play an important role in this, and we look forward to seeing loved ones reconnect over a drink while supporting their local. As people look forward to getting together with friends and family, we are confident they will continue to drink responsibly."

The research also appeared to show a move to moderate drinking during the pandemic, and the confusion that surrounds it.

In keeping with the narrative that Brits turned to the bottle in 2020, 69% of UK adults incorrectly stated that the UK population has increased its alcohol consumption over the last year. The group however, said its research showed the opposite.

According to the study, the majority (78%) either do not drink or drink within the Chief Medical Officer lower-risk drinking guidelines (up to 14 units a week). Around three-quarters (73%) of UK drinkers say they are drinking the same or less compared to before the pandemic.

In fact, close to one in three (32%) said they have reduced their drinking over the past year.

Lambert said the group’s findings are in line with various studies carried out over the past year which show that the “moderate majority” have continued to drink responsibly.