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Winter warmers and fair-weather friends: our seasonal drinking habits

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2005 – June 2015 (n=196,950).

It’s official: Australia is currently smack-bang in the middle of its annual beer-drinking lull. Every year, as regular as winter, the July-September quarter brings with it a slowdown in consumption of the amber fluid, while slightly more of us than usual turn to red and fortified wines...

The latest findings from Roy Morgan research reveal that this pattern has been occurring for the last decade at least. While it is not especially surprising, given that beer in Australia is generally marketed and consumed as a warm-weather beverage, the regularity with which our drinking habits ebb and flow is striking.

As the chart below indicates, the July-September quarter sees a plunge in the proportion of Aussie adults drinking beer (while, conversely, the warmer January-March quarter invariably sees a spike). Over the past 10 years, the average proportion of Australians drinking beer during the July-September quarter is 37.6%, compared with a long-term average of 43% for the January-March quarter.

Peaks and troughs: 10 years of beer- and wine-drinking


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2005 – June 2015 (n=196,950).

Incidence of red wine consumption also shows some noticeable peaks during the July-September quarter over the last decade (with a long-term July-September average of 33.1%); so too does fortified wine, although not as markedly.

As well as showing the regular seasonal changes in consumption of these three beverages, the chart also shows an incremental but distinct decline in the proportion of Aussie adults drinking them at all. Even the peaks soften as the years roll on, a trend consistent with the broader overall decline in liquor consumption: whereby the total proportion of Australians 18+ who drink any kind of alcohol in an average four weeks has fallen from 72% as of June 2006 to 68% as of June 2015.

Andrew Price, General Manager – Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Unlike beer-drinkers in the northern hemisphere, Australians do not tend to see beer as a winter beverage. So it’s no surprise that the proportion of us drinking it during the cool July-September quarter falls, only to peak again in the warm January-March quarter every year.

“Of course, this doesn’t mean that so-called ‘winter beers’ aren’t available here, but it does suggest that marketers wishing to overcome our resistance to (or at least, inability to process) the concept have their work cut out for them.

“Along with the corresponding increases in the proportion of us drinking red and fortified wines during the July-September quarter, our findings also reveal that Aussie adults are also much more inclined to drink hot chocolate at this time of year than any other quarter. One has to wonder, therefore, why no liquor brands have yet introduced a pre-prepared alcoholic hot chocolate into the market…”

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Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%