UK consumers have been drinking more wine during lockdown with at-home occasions “more than compensating” for the loss of out-of-home drinking occasions, according to a new report.

The Covid-19 Impact Report by Wine Intelligence shows that the UK’s 28 million wine consumers have been drinking more wine at home, and more frequently, than before lockdown measures were imposed. While this is to be expected because there has been no on-trade environment over this period, the report also noted that total wine drinking occasions have increased in number.

Chief executive of Wine Intelligence, Lulie Halstead, said: “Having seen a sharp increase in sales at the start of the lockdown period in March, volumes of wine sold through off-trade are still trading significantly ahead of normal.”

The report confirms that the online channel has been “the big winner” of the lockdown, with younger, affluent and urban-dwelling wine drinkers leading the way for supermarket and direct-to-home wine websites.

Halstead said: “As with the US market, the evidence from this report is that the surge of wine purchased in March and early April in the UK has in fact been consumed by increased frequency generally, and by the invention of new wine drinking moments.

“As well as the usual with-food occasions, wine has become part of many of the new non-food occasions, for instance catching up with friends online or pre-dinner drinks that start earlier in the day than ever before.”

She also noted: “Finally, when it comes to the future, the British wine drinker is understandably quite cautious about their household finances and the idea of getting on a plane. Mercifully for the wine category, and in common with consumers in other markets, UK wine drinkers are still choosing to buy wine even as their plans for summer holidays get put on hold.”

The report showed that more than 50% of consumers said they drank wine during the day at a non-food occasion. It also showed that the typical spend per bottle for at-home consumption reduced across all occasions compared with pre-virus spending levels.

At least once a week, half of UK consumers consumed wine during lunch or dinner and with a “better than usual” evening meal with family or partner.

As is to be expected convenience stores and online channels saw increased wine purchasing during lockdown, although specialist wine shops experienced an overall decline in usage. The biggest channel winner for wine purchase was online, specifically supermarket websites, driven by “younger, male,wine-engaged urbanites”. The data also showed a quarter of online wine purchasers were drinking wine every day. 

The report, by Wine Intelligence’s Vinitrac online survey, used data from March and July 2019 and March 2020.