Drop in spirit sales suggests Czechs might not be Europe’s leading alcohol consumers

Photo: Filip Jandourek, ČRo

The Czech Republic has been for years considered one of Europe’s leading countries in terms of alcohol consumption per capita. But recent data on the sales of spirits in the country suggest Czechs might not be such heavy drinkers after all.

Photo: Filip Jandourek / Czech Radio
According to data released by the Czech Republic’s Spirit Producers and Importers Union on Thursday, the sales of alcoholic beverages have dropped by nearly a quarter since restrictions related to Covid-19 were introduced in the country, the website Aktualne.cz reports. That figure is actually lower than EU average.

“We assume that most people didn’t change their habits related to the consumption of alcohol during the coronavirus crisis. People who were used to going to restaurants and bars currently have to stay at home. Despite that, sales have dropped by 24 percent,” Vladimír Darebník, head of the Spirit Producers and Importers Union, told the website.

Mr. Drábek says that apart from foreign tourists, who are now banned from entering the Czech Republic, the drop in sales has been affected by the ban on cross-border shopping. “Germans and Austrians come to the Czech Republic to buy alcohol for favourable prices, just like our citizens go shopping to these countries for food and clothes,” Mr. Drábek told the website.

While sales in restaurants and hotels have taken a deep plunge, the retail sales of alcoholic beverages increased by 14 percent. One of the reasons behind the increase is higher consumer tax, introduced in 2020.

The price of half a litre of spirits with 40 percent alcohol content grew from CZK 57 to CZK 65, which represents an increase by 16 percent.

Breweries report a 40 percent drop in sales as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. In the case of mini-breweries, the losses exceed 80 percent.

The drop in sales is caused not only by the closure of restaurants, but also by lower exports. The data of the Czech Statistics Office suggest consumption of alcohol in the Czech Republic has been quite stable over the past few years. While in 2016, the annual consumption of spirits was 173.5 litres per capita, in 2017 it was 170.6 litres and in 2018 it reached 172.8 litres.

Meanwhile back in 1948, the average Czech drank only 84.4 litres of alcohol a year.