Canadians are not buying alcohol as frequently as they used to, a new report from Statistics Canada has found.
Between March 2021 and March 2022, alcohol sales totalled $13.5 billion across provinces, showing an increase of 1.1%. But that doesn’t mean Canadians were actually drinking as much. Inflation rose 2.8% for alcohol purchases from stores, thus driving sales.
The country has recorded the largest drop in sales by volume in over a decade, declining 1.2% to 3,131 million litres in the same fiscal year.
This is equal to 9.5 standard boozy beverages per week per person of legal drinking age, and is the first and largest decline recorded since 2013-2014.
Health Canada defines a “standard” drink as a 341 ml of beer, cooler or cider with 5% alcohol content; a 142 ml glass of wine with 12% alcohol content; or a 43 ml spirit drink with 40% alcohol.
Here’s what things look like by alcohol category:
Volume-based wine sales went dipped by 4%, and the per-person average volume of wine consumed now stands at 2.4 glasses. “This was the largest decrease in the volume of wine sold since Statistics Canada began tracking alcohol sales in 1949,” the report states.
Wine sales, however, produced a higher dollar amount, rising 2.1% to $8.1 billion.
The drink made up 31.3% of all alcohol sales in Canada, and Quebec had the highest wine sales at 43.4%. British Columbia followed with 33.2% of Canada’s wine sales. Red wine was the prime choice of Canadians (52.3%), followed by white wine (33%), sparkling wine (7.6%), and rosé, fortified, and other types of wine (7.1%).
Things are rather rocky for one of Canada’s favourite beverages. Not only did beer sales decline by volume (-2.8%), but also by value (-0.7%). The average weekly consumption of a person of drinking age is now 3.7 bottles of beer.
“This was a new all-time low for beer volume sales per person since Statistics Canada began tracking alcohol sales in 1949,” said Statistics Canada.
This is the third consecutive annual dollar-amount decrease in beer sales, but it remained the top-sold beverage in Canada compared to other alcoholic drinks, with a share of 34.9% in total sales.
From a zoomed-out perspective, beer has lost 8.8% of its market share in the last decade.
Spirits, ciders, and coolers
Ciders and coolers are rising to the top, and have seen a 5% increase in market share, followed by spirits (+2.5%) and wine (+1.3%).
Sales of ciders and coolers went up in all provinces and territories. By volume, sales have gone up 11.9% to 370 million litres.
Canadians spent $2.1 billion on ciders and coolers in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, increasing dollar-value sales by 13.5%. This growth rate was a lot higher (40.2%) in the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
The two beverages are Yukon’s biggest hit, but a flop in Quebec, which prefers wine.
Canada’s alcohol tax
Canadians are set to pay slightly more for beer, wine, and other alcohol starting on April 1 as the federal government’s annual excise tax adjustment kicks in.
By law, the excise tax adjusts every year on April 1 according to the Consumer Price Index (aka inflation). This year, because inflation has been so high, the federal excise tax on alcohol is going up by 6.3%.
Adrienne Vaupshas, press secretary with the prime minister and minister of finance’s office, told Daily Hive the April 1 adjustment will work out to approximately three-quarters of a cent ($0.0078) per can of beer, so you don’t have to worry about spending a fortune on a drink just yet.
With files from Daily Hive’s Megan Devlin