Overall at home drinking is growing faster than drinking in pubs, cafes, clubs and restaurants, with wine forging ahead as the tipple of choice according to the market analyst in a new report on the off-trade consumption of alcoholic drinks.
Datamonitor forecasts the off-trade consumption of alcoholic drinks in the UK will rise by about 15 per cent, to £12.3bn (€17.9bn) in 2010.
Men are still the biggest consumers of alcoholic drinks at home but women are closing the gap and having a significant impact on the volume of the off-trade, Datamonitor noted in its latest report.
UK consumers drink slightly more at home that they do outside. Per capita consumption of pure alcohol at home currently stands at 5.7 liters per year, against 5.3 liters in the on-trade. Women are the key growth in the off-trade, the forecaster believes, with their consumption of alcoholic drinks at home likely to increase by 25 per cent.
Based on their current drinking rates women will cross the 40 per cent volume mark by 2010, stated Datamonitor. They will also underpin growth in volume and value many alcohol drink categories are helping to underpin the growth in volume and value, the analytical agency stated in its forecasts.
Datamonitor forecasts the consumption of alcoholic drinks at home by women to grow from just under 100m litres of pure alcohol in 2005 to 124m in 2010.
"Drinking at home leaves them free to enjoy the experience of social bonding with friends but in an environment where they can relax and not worry about safety or social norms," Datamonitor stated.
Consumption is also on the rise in the UK, increasing overall from 270.1m litres of pure alcohol in 2005 to a forecast 294.1m in 2010.
In comparison the on-trade alcoholic drinks market is forecast to grow 10 per cent in value over the same period, even though the volume of consumption is declining.
"The strength of the off-trade market volume relative to the on-trade is largely explained by the importance of the home for consumers and the levels of comfort and entertainment options consumers are integrating into their homes," stated Datamonitor. "The investment in homes both financial and emotional is considerable so consumers want to spend time at home to enjoy the benefits of their outlay and good taste."
The competitive pricing and extensive choice offered in UK supermarkets is also making drinking at home both affordable and pleasurable. However the success of at-home drinking is also driven by the declining appeal of the on-trade.
"Drinking at home provides greater personal freedom for consumers and protection from the highly publicised binge-drinking culture, and drink-related violence and disorder," Datamonitor stated. "Drinking at home also gives freedom to smoke or avoid smoking in the run-up to the imminent watershed of the UK-wide on-trade smoking ban in 2007."
The UK off-trade market has one of the lowest consumption rates in Europe. Across the seven European countries surveyed by Datamonitor, Germany has the highest consumption rate at an average of 10.6 liters of pure alcohol per head compared with the European average of 6.8 liters. Spain has the lowest at-home consumption of any of the countries in the survey, clocking in at 4.6 litres.
In 2005, off-trade wine sales overtook beer by £1 million, with both reaching £4.3bn in sales. Spirits and cider sales have dwindled while those in the market for flavoured alcoholic beverages made moderate but short-lived gains, the analyst stated.
Those in the wine business could see an annual growth of five per cent between 2005 and 2010, with sales reaching £5.5bn by 2010.
This value growth will be matched by volume growth of 3.2 per cent annually until 2010 when the wine category will account for 294.1m litres of pure alcohol, says the forecaster.
Spirits will be the only category forecaste to experience volume decline from 2005 to 2010.
The success of wine shows that drinking habits and preferences are changing to improved healthiness and drinking with home dining as the image of wine continues its demystification, Datamonitor stated.
"Consumers perceive wine as being the healthiest alcoholic beverage, or the one, that does the least harm when consumed in moderation," Datamonitor stated. "The stuffy image of wine being consumed exclusively with meals by affluent customers with extensive knowledge of what to buy and how to drink it has been dissolved."