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The Alcohol Industry and COVID-19: Lessons Learned

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The COVID-19 pandemic has been a situation that’s very difficult to deal with. All of us encountered problems in different ways. Many of us, especially those who lost our jobs, struggled with our finances. For others, the strict enforcement of social distancing really took the cake. Being alone at home at all hours of the day and night just took a huge toll on us. Thus, we coped in different ways.

We took up new hobbies such as trying out the different recipes that trended on TikTok. We had a sudden interest in quirky things such as crocheting or painting. We sought comfort in ordering food. But there’s one thing that helped many of us have some fun from time to time in the midst of the pandemic. And that is alcohol. Having a beer with our friends, even if it’s only via Zoom, helped us a lot feel less lonely.

The alcohol industry tried its best to make sure that we have access to our favorite beverages during these trying times. But the industry, too, struggled in the last few months. But in this struggle are the lessons that we learned. If the industry goes through the same situation again, they’ll be equipped with these lessons.

How to Deal with Restaurant and Bar Closures

The alcohol industry relies heavily on restaurants and bars. Business owners in the restaurant and bar industry are the biggest buyers. They buy bulk orders of alcoholic beverages that would be served to customers. So when restaurants and bars were ordered to close their doors for dine-in customers, the alcohol industry was hit very hard. Restaurants and bars lost their usual clientele, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

But the alcohol industry found a way to pick itself up and work through the challenges caused by the pandemic. For one, it took advantage of the time when more restaurants opened again. Trends in the menu of the restaurant industry always change. But there’s one thing that customers have always been interested in. And that is alcohol.

FSR Magazine reported that alcohol sales actually helped restaurants survive during the pandemic. Even the state governments across the United States understood this opportunity. So over 30 states made it legal for restaurants to sell alcohol with takeout or delivery orders. That is, as long as the customers are able to present an ID that declares that they’re of legal drinking age.

How to Keep Things Interesting

Even if people tend to stick to their favorite beverages, they, too, would like to explore different alcoholic beverage options from time to time. But being stuck at home makes this difficult. Before the pandemic, if they want to feel like one of the women on Sex and the City, they would just walk to a bartender and ask them for a cosmopolitan. But now, exploring such cocktails is difficult if we don’t have the ingredients and the instructions.

But the alcohol industry found a way to work around this and still keep people interested in drinking. Companies created more canned cocktails that customers could easily buy in groceries, convenience stores, or online. This proved effective. In just one week back in March 2020, the sales of canned cocktails rose to 93 percent. Other canned beverages such as wine also rose to more than 90 percent.

Another way to keep things interesting is by redefining our favorite beverages. Beer, for one, is always a go-to drink for many. Some companies infused their beer with interesting flavors. For example, there’s beer infused with German mandarina bavaria hops. This gives the beer a refreshing citrus taste.

alcohol in bar

How to Deal with Alcohol Bans

Even if alcohol has been helping restaurants stay afloat, there were still many areas around the country and the world that banned alcohol during the pandemic. An example is Pennsylvania. Back in Thanksgiving, the state banned the sales of alcohol in restaurants and bars to help curb the spread of the coronavirus during the holidays. But entire countries banned alcohol sales. Spain, Kenya, and Hong Kong are among them.

Truth be told, when a ban is enforced, there’s not much that alcohol industries can do. They would just have to wait for the ban to be lifted. But what the alcohol industry has done is to prepare for the demand once the bans are lifted.

The alcohol industry was able to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it clearly found many challenges along the way. No one can tell for sure whether the industry would go through what it went through in 2020 again. But knowing the lessons learned from that experience would definitely help the industry do better in the future.

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