Korea is well known for its binge-drinking and hoesik (night time drinking gatherings) culture, but with the endorsement of “social distancing” due to Covid-19 pandemic, things appear to have changed significantly, as the latest data shows more opting to drink at home.
“(Because of COVID-19) I had many of my hangout plans canceled, and it was disappointing at first. But I realized it is much more comfortable and cheaper to drink at home. And you can still get the excitement you get from drinking,” Choi Jeong-hyun, an office worker in Seoul, said.
According to convenience store chain CU, sales of liquor products have jumped in recent weeks, reflecting a new trend of drinking from home, as people refrain from going to crowded places.
From 1st March, sales of liquor products increased 20 percent — a sizable jump considering the increase rate was 9.9 percent in 2018 and 12.3 percent in 2019.
Wine appeared to be the most popular choice for home drinkers, accounting for 39.2 percent of sales during the period. Imported hard liquor products came second at 26.5 percent, selling “unprecedentedly” more than usual, CU said.
Korea’s traditional rice wine makgeolli and soju followed in the list with 21.1 percent and 17.3 percent, and beer followed with 10.4 percent.
As people find comfort in drinking at home, demand for hangover cures has markedly dropped.
In January, sales of hangover cures in CU stores had risen 6.1 percent on-year, but the figures plunged in the following months, showing a reverse performance of minus 13.9 percent in February and minus 22.5 percent in March.
“The sales of liquor is showing an outstanding increase as the lifestyles of the consumers have changed due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” a CU official said.
Universities pushing back the date for opening of the new semester and operating remote classes via video lectures also appears to have had an impact, according to CU.
The convenience store chain said it will run discount events for liquor and food items that go well with the drinks.
(Source: Korea Herald)