People have stopped drinking as much champagne during the pandemic, and now the industry could be in a billion-dollar free-fall

  • Champagne sales have dropped 18% by volume amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Trade group CIVC estimates that sales dropped from 300 million bottles in 2019 to 245 million in 2020.
  • Though champagne sales are down, alcohol sales have been on the rise, particularly spirits and wine.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Champagne sales have declined sharply during the nearly year-long coronavirus pandemic, with bars and restaurants shut down and major celebrations put on hold.

Champagne sales tumbled 18% by volume in 2020, according to CIVC, a champagne industry trade group. The decline could wipe out $US1.2 billion in value for producers, CIVC said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

“It is a little better than we had thought,” said Maxime Toubart, co-chairman of the group. “Around the world, even if we are not allowed to party, there were still some events to celebrate, and champagne is a symbol of celebration.”

CIVC estimates that total champagne sales dropped from 300 million bottles in 2019 to 245 million in 2020. France, Great Britain, and the United States each saw a 20% decline in sales, while Japan saw a sharper drop of 28% in 2020, according to Reuters.

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The steep decline in champagne sales is largely due to the closure of restaurants and bars as many parts of the world remain mostly locked down to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus. CIVC noted that there was a slight uptick in sales in Europe toward the end of 2020, particularly at supermarkets.

Champagne sales also got a boost in the US toward the end of 2020, but not necessarily because of the holidays. Multiple media outlets reported a significant uptick in champagne sales following the US presidential election.

Washington, DC-area liquor store owners told Newsweek’s Benjamin Fearnow that they sold more champagne after the election than the previous two New Year’s Eve celebration’s combined, as supporters of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took to the streets to celebrate their victory.

On the Saturday following the election, the day Biden’s victory was made official, two DC chains told Newsweek they saw a “deluge” of customers buying champagne.

Wine stores nationwide told Robb Report’s Rachel Cormack they saw a similar trend following the election: Brooklyn-based wine shop Vanderbilt Wine Merchants told the site it sold 600% more sparkling wine that Saturday than the previous four or five weeks and ended up selling out completely.

While champagne sales slumped for most of last year, alcohol sales soared. In the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, alcohol sales rose 25% compared to the year prior— spirits and wine in particular saw an uptick of 33% and 32% growth, respectively.

Customers also began stocking up on alcohol amid the lockdowns, with sales of three-litre boxes of wine spiking 82% in early April compared to the prior year, according to Nielsen data.

As of September, Nielsen pegged the increase in alcohol sales at about 24%.

The pandemic also fuelled a rise in alcohol delivery: Drizly, an alcohol delivery startup, told NPR last fall that it had seen a 350% increase in sales from the year prior.