Research by alcohol industry regulator and social responsibility body, the Portman Group, has revealed that more than half (51%) of Generation Z – those aged between 18 and 24 years old – have visited a pub or bar at least once since sites reopened on 4 July.
This youngest generation were found to be more eager to return to their local than older drinkers, with almost two thirds (64%) of those over 45 found to have steered clear of pubs and bars since trading resumed.
However, while the Portman Group stated those in the 18-24 age bracket had moved from ‘generation sober’ to ‘generation congregate’, this hadn’t led to the binge drinking and excess that many had feared.
Bucking the idea that congregating and excessive consumption go hand-in-hand, data revealed younger drinkers continued to drink in moderation in the on-trade with only one in seven (14%) 18 to 24-year olds having increased their alcohol intake since the hospitality sector reopened.
This comes after global intelligence platform Streetbees found that Generation Z was the most likely to have reduced their alcohol consumption during lockdown, with 51% claiming to have drunk less behind closed doors, while a third (32%) said they had increased their intake.
Don’t feel invincible
However, while the Portman Group found that members of ‘generation congregate’ were more likely to be visiting post-lockdown pubs and bars, their research comes after WHO regional director for Europe warned younger people not feel “invincible” as coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
In a briefing with journalists on 20 August, Dr Hans Kluge admitted he was “very concerned” under-24s are regularly appearing among new coronavirus cases and not following Covid-secure measures in places like pubs and bars could have serious repercussions.
According to WHO data, the proportion of those infected aged 15 to 24 has trebled in the space of roughly five months, from 4.5% to 15%.
“Young people are at the forefront of the Covid-19 response and they have a very powerful message to convey through their behaviour and their communication,” he said.
“Low risk does not mean no risk, no one is invincible and if you do not die from Covid-19, it may stick to your body like a tornado with a long tail.
“While young people are less likely to die than older people they can still be very seriously affected, this virus affects organs throughout the body.”
Dr Kluge’s warning also follows a joint statement from Greater Manchester’s mayor, night-time economy advisor, brewers and pub operators calling on the public to step up and take their share of responsibility for controlling the spread of Covid-19.
The Portman Group’s research also found that despite predictions lockdown would cause a sharp rise in alcohol consumption and binge-drinking among Brits, almost two thirds of those quizzed (65%) drank the same, less or stopped drinking altogether behind closed doors.
What’s more, in the weeks following the reopening of the hospitality sector from 4 July, this trend has appeared to spill into on-trade with nine-in-ten (88%) Brits drinking the same (54%), less (25%) or have cut alcohol out altogether (7%) since the hospitality sector reopened.
“During the course of the Covid-19 crisis there has been a fear that many people would turn to alcohol and that misuse would increase,” John Timothy, CEO of the Portman Group, said of the findings.
“Yet the British public are showing continued moderation both at home and, happily, now back at the pub. It’s great to see people supporting their community pubs while drinking sensibly and maintaining social distancing”.
This moderation trend has likely been fuelled by the roll out of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which allows operators to offer customers a 50% discount – up to a maximum of £10 per person – all day, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday between 3 August and 31 August for food and non-alcoholic drinks consumed on site.