The coronavirus and safety measures around it have had a big impact on Czech shopping habits, with alcohol purchases rising sharply.
Purchases have narrowed to fast-moving goods available at stores that remain open and online purchases. People eat more at home, due to restaurants being closed except for take out, and have stocked up to reduce the number of shopping trips needed.
The peak panic shopping time was the second week of March, when retail sales grew by nearly 40% compared to the same time of the previous year, but sales were significantly lower both a week before and a week after this panic shopping. On March 6, the Czech government announced mandatory quarantine for people returning from parts of Italy, and on March 12 the government declared a state of emergency.
The entire alcoholic beverage segment recorded a 14% increase in sales during the first four weeks of the crisis, from February 24 to March 22. compared to last year. In the second week of March, alcoholic beverages sales increased by almost 30%. The statistics are reported by the Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism (SOCR ČR), based on research by auditing firm Nielsen.
Already in the third week of March, when panic grocery and drugstore shopping fell, alcohol continued to grow at a higher rate and managed to increase sales by 11%.
In Slovakia, people spent only 4% more on alcohol in the same period compared to a year ago. This put alcohol in Slovakia among the slowest growing categories since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis. Even in the second week of March, when there was a significant increase in total turnover in Slovakia, by more than 30% compared to the previous year, alcoholic beverages grew by only 4.3%.
There are more significant differences between alcohol segments. Czech consumers remained loyal to the most popular types of alcohol even during the crisis period, and the strongest increase was recorded by the two strongest alcohol groups — beer and hard alcohol. Beer sales increased by 14%, hard alcohol by 16% and wine and wine drinks by 9% over the four-week period from the start of the crisis
For alcoholic mixed drinks people paid up to 65% more than a year ago. However, this extreme jump is mainly due to the overall growth in demand for beer mixes (radlers), especially in non-alcoholic variations, which have been successful during the past year.
The only segment of alcoholic beverages that did not feel any panic buying effect at all and even fell in turn was liqueurs, whose sales fell by 7% compared to last year.
Concerning hard alcohol, vodka and whiskey saw an increase in turnover of almost 30% over the first four weeks of the crisis, while consumer spirits (konzumní lihoviny) in general saw almost 40% growth. The minority category of gin increased by two-thirds compared to last year.
Some types of alcohol did not ride the wave of increased interest: brandy and cognac sales fell by a quarter and borovička (juniper liquor) by 16%. Sales of domestic rum (tuzemák) along with rum and bitter herbal liqueurs grew very moderately, by 4%.
In terms of the entire shopping basket, Czechs spent 16% more than a year ago in the first four weeks since the outbreak of the crisis.
Sales of some goods grew significantly in this time, such as health care products by 35%, durable food by 32%, frozen food by 23%, fresh and chilled food by 18%, and drugstore (drogerie) goods by 19%.
Goods with a less than average increase included included soft drinks with a 10% growth, pet food by 7%, sweets and savory snacks by 4%, and tobacco products by 5%. Other goods available in grocery and non-food stores, other than food and drugstore products, dropped significantly by 10%.
In previous years there has been a significant increase in alcohol purchases in the week before Easter. After Christmas it is the second-strongest period for many types of alcoholic beverages. It is not yet clear if that will occur this year, or if people will rely on stocks they have already purchased.
Stores monitored by Nielsen for its shopping statistics include Albert, Billa, dm drogerie, Globus, Kaufland, Penny Market, Rossmann, Tesco, Teta drogerie, and TOP drogerie.
The Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption in the world, and is one the highest consumers of alcohol overall per capita.