MEDIA RELEASE 22nd April 2020

It’s official – Kiwis are drinking less under lockdown.

A just-released government report [i] shows that only 64% of New Zealanders said they had a drink in the last four weeks, compared with 81% who had a drink in the past 12 months.

“The survey produced by the Health Promotion Agency shows that people choosing to not drink at all is up – at 36% – compared with pre-COVID times, when only 20% of Kiwis hadn’t had a drink in the previous 12 months [ii],” said NZABC Executive Director Bridget MacDonald today.

“We already know the majority of New Zealanders are moderate and responsible drinkers. The survey shows of those that have had a drink, around half are drinking the same amount as they usually do, and one third are actually drinking less,” said Bridget.

What it also shows is that even in times of stress and uncertainty most Kiwis are making good decisions around how they are dealing with the current Covid-19 situation, and that includes looking at how they are drinking,” Bridget said.

Total alcohol sales are estimated to be down 20-30% with restaurants, bars and cafes and liquor retail outlets closed, which also indicates a significant decline in consumption for New Zealanders.

The survey shows half of 18-24 year-olds are drinking less often as a result of not being able to go out and socialise. While some people are cost-conscious in this time of economic uncertainty (36%), the survey also showed that people saw lockdown as an opportunity to think about their health and wellbeing and reduce how much they drink (35%). This is in line with global trends toward more better-for-me options, such as no- and low-alcohol drinks.

“We know that one in five drink in a harmful way, and that’s not okay. We all have a part to play in helping those people with targeted education initiatives and support programmes.

“Recognising the stresses that Kiwis are under during lockdown, the industry has got in behind the CheersNZ! campaign to #drinknormal. We’ve been suggesting that Kiwis take heed of the Ministry of Health’s safe drinking guidelines. We’re also reminding parents to be mindful of how they are drinking in front of young people in their homes. They’re the single biggest influence on a young person’s decisions around alcohol, so this is a great opportunity for parents to show positive role modelling around moderate and responsible drinking,” said Bridget.

Need help?

Call the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, free txt 8681, or visit

Need more information?

Check out and for more information on what a standard drink is and how to make better drinking decisions.

Ministry of Health/HPA Guidelines: Low-risk alcohol drinking advice



[i] Health Promotion Agency, The impact of lockdown on health risk behaviour, 21 Apr 2020,

[ii] Ministry of Health, NZ Health Survey 2018/19!/explore-indicators