Dry January is a yearly campaign encouraging people to give up on alcohol for the month in an attempt to improve public health. The campaign originally started in the UK and has slowly spread worldwide, with Malta seemingly also participating. However, whether Malta has a notable participation rate is debatable.

Following the holiday season featuring celebrations for Christmas and New Year’s, it’s expected that people may want to avoid alcohol for a while. However, there’s no data on whether consumption actually changes.

This newsroom reached out to beverage retailers on whether they noticed a difference in consumer habits throughout January 2023.

A spokesperson for Spades Wines & Spirits affirmed the theory that consumption drops in January, and explained that it is usually the slowest month of the year, with December being the busiest. However, January 2023 might have broken the trend.

“We still saw an increase in sales from previous years on our website due to new clients and a wider range of whiskeys and wines,” adding that, “It was less than an average month but still very promising for 2023.”

They highlighted that there was a growing trend of consumers seeking fine wines, premium tequila, and rare collectable whiskeys.

This may indicate that, while people in Malta are not, on the whole, looking to drink less throughout January, they may be moving towards consuming smaller volumes of higher-value drinks.

There may also be a number of other factors at play, since the holiday season between December 2022 and January 2023 was the first holiday season without any COVID-19 restrictions since 2019.

Therefore, retailers may still be experiencing the effects of pent-up demand.

December 2022 was also a record-breaking month of activity for Malta’s hotel and restaurant industry, so it’s not unimaginable that this may carry forward to other sectors.

Consumer preferences in relation to alcohol also appear to be evolving in the Maltese islands. While consumers are moving towards fine wines and a selection of premium and rare alcohol, consumers within the beer ecosystem are also moving towards locally produced craft beer.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) data, Malta is not a heavy-drinking country when compared to its European counterparts. The country ranks second to last when it comes to the total volume of alcohol consumed among adults, at 8.3 litres. Only Italy reportedly consumes less at eight litres, and Czechia consumes the most at 14.3 litres.

It does not seem as though Dry January has a major impact on the alcohol consumption habits of locals, however, this does not mean that consumers should not be vigilant. Despite ranking fairly low, 21.9 per cent of adults in Malta engage in binge drinking, and drink-driving is still a major issue according to a recent OECD study.


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