The effect of liquor licensing laws on alcohol purchases in Australia, Roy Morgan Research

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 10th November 2014
The effect of liquor licensing laws on alcohol purchases in Australia, Roy Morgan Research
The effect of liquor licensing laws on alcohol purchases in Australia, Roy Morgan Research

The rate of alcohol purchasing is much lower in Australia than in New Zealand—a difference that market research organisation Roy Morgan Research said may be a result of the two countries’ liquor licensing laws.

In the year to June 2014, 49.6 per cent of Australians bought alcohol in a four-week period, compared with 59.4 per cent of Kiwis.

Seven in ten Australian adults said they usually drink alcohol in an average four week period, down from 72 per cent in 2009, and still slightly below the New Zealand rate of 74 per cent (down from 77 per cent), according to Roy Morgan Research.

Australians buy from individual liquor retailers

Roy Morgan Research said this difference in purchasing rates reflected the two countries’ liquor licensing laws. In each country, one particular channel is most popular among the vast majority (76 per cent) of alcohol—but in Australia that channel is individual retailers, while in New Zealand it is licensed supermarkets.

45.2 per cent of New Zealanders bought alcohol from a licensed supermarket in the last four weeks, compared with only 9.3 per cent of Australians. Instead, 37.6 per cent of Australians bought from an individual liquor retailer (compared with 29.4 per cent of Kiwis) and nearly 1 in 10 bought from a hotel bottle shop (9.8 per cent), a channel used by just 1 in 100 New Zealanders (1.0 per cent).

New Zealand’s major supermarkets licensed

Although Australia’s two main supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths each own numerous individual retailers, New Zealand’s major grocery supermarkets including Pak’nSave, New World and Countdown are all licensed to stock beer and wine on the shelves.

“In New Zealand, it’s a one-stop shop for milk, bread, eggs and beer at the supermarket, while Australians have to make a separate trip to an individual retailer for their booze, even if it’s just next door to the parent supermarket,” said Angela Smith, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research.

“That the gap between our rates of purchase is so much wider than the consumption gap suggests that having beer and wine available at the local supermarket means Kiwis buy their alcohol more regularly, while Australians tend to stock up during the separate, less regular trips to the liquor store like Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Liquorland, Vintage Cellars or First Choice—all owned by one of the two supermarket giants,” Ms Smith said.

Ms Smith said further investigation of these patterns and comparisons could help licensing bodies, retailers and suppliers better understand the relationships between channel and consumption.