COVID-19 had a catastrophic impact on the on-trade alcoholic drinks market in Japan throughout 2020. Although the Japanese Government did not impose lockdowns, the first state of emergency, which applied nationwide, was announced from April to May 2020, with the government requesting that foodservice channels limit opening hours and asking people to stay home as much as possible.
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, a state of emergency was imposed in seven major Japanese prefectures from 6 April 2020, and all 47 prefectures from 16 April. People were encouraged to stay home, avoid group events, avoid stockpiling and to wash their hands frequently, with no penalties or mandatory requirements.
With a shortage of alcohol sterilisation products, various alcoholic drinks players, including Suntory and local sake/shochu brewers, decided to manufacture such products at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Because of this, some manufacturers were unable to produce their alcoholic drinks products at full capacity, undermining their sales.
E-commerce expanded strongly across a wide range of product areas, within alcoholic drinks and beyond, during the COVID-19 crisis as it benefited from restrictions on the operations of physical stores, consumer concerns about viral transmission through social contact and the increase in consumers’ digital engagement as they turned to online resources for a wide range of purposes, including socialising, work, study and entertainment, as well as shopping. The growth of online retailing was also supported by the increased commitment of manufacturers and retailers as they looked to maintain contact with consumers and compensate for the loss of sales through brick-and-mortar retailing and foodservice.
The COVID-19 crisis led to a marked shift in alcoholic drinks sales from on-trade to off-trade channels as consumers moved to drinking at home due to restrictions on the operations of brick-and-mortar stores and concerns about exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus in public settings. The rise in drinking at home, in turn, led to a diversification of demand.
The on-trade alcoholic drinks market is expected to continue to struggle in 2021, with Japan having experienced the onset of a third wave of infections in November 2020 that continued into 2021. A state of emergency was announced applying to 11 prefectures in January 2021, which requested that foodservice outlets reduce their opening hours to close at 8 pm, and asking people to stay home and work remotely as much as possible.
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Understand the latest market trends and future growth opportunities for the Alcoholic Drinks industry in Japan with research from Euromonitor International's team of in-country analysts – experts by industry and geographic specialisation.
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This report originates from Passport, our Alcoholic Drinks research and analysis database.
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