A survey of Australian adults who use popular alcohol delivery sites found one in five utilised a service to continue a home drinking session.
Published on the 01 Mar 2023 by Ben Knight
Services that deliver alcohol directly to the doorstep in as little as 30 minutes can prolong drinking sessions that would have otherwise ended, according to new research.
A team led by UNSW Sydney surveyed 1158 Australian adults who used online alcohol delivery services to investigate purchasing patterns, consumer motivations and age verification practices. Participants were recruited through social media, and sampling was used to roughly reflect the age and gender proportions of the wider population.
They found one in five survey participants had used an online delivery service to extend a home drinking session because they had run out of alcohol, with a third indicating they would have stopped if the option wasn’t available. Furthermore, those who had used a fast same-day service to continue drinking were six times more likely to drink at hazardous levels than those who had never used a service this way.
“Increased access to rapid delivery of low-cost liquor from the comfort of the home could be impacting purchasing and drinking behaviours,” says Stephanie Colbert, lead author of the study and PhD candidate from the School of Population Health at UNSW Medicine & Health.
“As we saw in this study, some would drink less if the service wasn’t available.”
Expansion in the home delivery sector
While alcohol home delivery services have been around for a while, sales have risen significantly in recent years. Now, more online retailers are offering to bring alcohol direct-to-door in under two hours than ever before to meet the demand.
“More than a quarter of survey participants had never purchased alcohol online for delivery before the pandemic. Of the remaining who had, 44 per cent had increased their use in that time,” Ms Colbert says.
Convenience, followed by cost, were the most common reasons for purchasing alcohol online for delivery. Most participants also used an online promotion, such a multi-buy deal, which was associated with buying more alcohol.
“Over half of those surveyed said they had participated in an online promotion in their latest purchase, and they bought, on average, 22 more standard drinks than those who did not participate, which is a substantial amount,” Ms Colbert says.
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Some countries, such as Scotland and Ireland, have moved to restrict promotions encouraging people to buy more alcohol than they otherwise would have. Similar restrictions in Australia may reduce the incentive for increased alcohol purchasing, Ms Colbert says.
“The concern is that increased availability of alcohol in the community, which these services enable, may lead to increases in alcohol consumption and harm without having strong regulations in place and enforced.”