Last December, 41% of adults 21 and older who drink alcohol said they were likely to participate in Dry January in the new year (abstaining from alcohol for the month). This year, significantly less plan to participate (33%).

In the last year, likelihood to participate in a month of no drinking has decreased among each broad age group, the exception being the 55 and older group; their intent to participate has not changed. Although, the 55 and older crowd is no longer the least likely age group to participate in Dry January. This year, it’s Gen Z members (over 21) who show the least interest in giving up alcohol next month. Only 18% of Gen Z report intending this year, a significant decrease from 44% last year.

The Pandemic Effect

Like all aspects of retail and consumerism, the pandemic played a role in this year’s response to Dry January. CivicScience data highlights a correlation between consumers’ concern being in public spaces and their likelihood to participate in a month apart from beer, wine, cocktails, and the like. Those who are concerned about public places have a greater chance of being interested in drinking less in January. Even people who have simply scaled back their in-store shopping report a greater interest in Dry January.

In a cross comparison with respondents’ political leanings, the results were clear: Liberals (and some moderates) are not only more concerned and hesitant about the pandemic overall, but they are generally more interested than conservatives in the concept of Dry January.

Beer & Wine

Looking at the timeframe between the onset of the pandemic until now, the number of beer drinkers and wine drinkers have followed similar monthly trajectories but at different magnitudes. In April, consumption of both dropped a series of points but regained consumption into early summer. The primary difference is that consumption of wine only dipped twice (in April and December) while consumption of beer dropped four times over the last 12 months (April, July, October, and December).

The data show greater change to beer consumption than wine consumption throughout the pandemic. The monthly percentage of wine lovers in December is at 54% — two points lower than last January — while the monthly percentage of beer drinkers is at 50% — four points lower than last January.

And looking at beer and wine through the lens of Dry January intent shows that those who drink wine are slightly more likely to spend a month alcohol free than beer drinkers.

In addition, it is clear that someone’s experience with cannabis tells us whether or not they would be willing to give up alcohol for a month. And it seems to be more a matter of satisfaction than usage. Thirty-seven percent of unsatisfied cannabis users over 21 say they are likely to participate in Dry January, while significantly less (29%) satisfied cannabis users can say the same. 

Abstaining from alcohol for the month of January has its appeal but this year we see more people sticking to the small pleasures of life. Some habits just aren’t worth changing or forgoing when so many other aspects of daily life and routine have been disrupted.