As more Brits look to cut down on their alcohol intake, Dry January is thought to be one of the most lucrative times of year for the low/no sector. But in a world where low/no products are increasingly integrated into retailers’ year-round ranges, does Dry January really translate to an increase in sales? 

According to new research by Alcohol Change UK, around 9 million drinkers intended to take part in Dry January this year – one million more than in January 2022.

And as Dry January draws to a close, research company Kantar suggests that the annual event did lead to a rise in low/no sales despite the ongoing cost of living crisis that has seen many consumers tighten their purse strings. 

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “Many shoppers appear to have stuck with their new year’s resolutions.  We can clearly see the impact of Dry January in the data, as no and low alcohol beer volumes were up 3% on last year’s levels.” 

However, in Distill Ventures’ recent low/no panel discussion – ‘To January and Beyond: Seasonality and the Evolution of the Non-alc Drinker’ – industry experts suggested that Dry January doesn’t always drive sales. 

During the discussion, Nick Bodkins, founder of Boisson (a US-based low/no retailer), noted that his low/no sales tend to peak at the same time as sales as alcohol. Distill Ventures’ data echoed this sentiment, finding that the category grew steadily from 2020 to 2022 with the “most noticeable spikes in sales around the holidays and sales declining through January.”

Additionally, Caleno Drinks founder Ellie Webb, commented that consumers “have less appetite to go dry for an entire month” and that ‘Damp January’ is much more likely for drinkers looking to moderate rather than abstain completely. 

And although Dry January has now come to an end, the panel predicted that low/no sales will continue to surge throughout the year. Laura Willoughby, co-founder of Club Soda, predicted that non-alcoholic wine sales will match those of non-alcoholic beer, while all panellists agreed that 2023 will continue to see the development of the category beyond Dry January.