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Hungarians Turned to Alcohol to Escape Quarantine

Tamás Vaski 2021.01.28.

Alcohol consumption increased significantly in Hungary during quarantine in 2020, according to statistics published by the National Tax and Customs Administration (NAV). The trends in consumption show that this was not a normal seasonal change, but the direct decision of consumers. 

Statistics published by NAV show that in 2020, the restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic prompted people to stock up on alcohol.

In February, when the world was rapidly becoming aware of the pandemic, alcohol sales in Hungary increased by 75 percent compared to 2019. In March, when the government declared a state of emergency, there was a 50% increase in sales compared to 2019.

13 percent more cigarettes were sold in February while the use of other tobacco products grew between 16 and 20 percent between February and March.

Both categories stagnated between April and may, but following the lifting of restrictions in the summer, jumped back up. Overall, 10 percent more alcohol was consumed in 2020 than in 2019, while there was only a one percent increase in cigarette sales.

The two spikes in sales make sense, given that at the beginning of the pandemic everyone was stocking up on what ever goods they felt they needed. For some this meant more toilet paper, and for others it meant more of their favorite booze. Furthermore, since pubs and restaurants were no longer open, people could only drink from home.

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If there is one thing that is made crystal clear by these statistics, it is that Hungarians would much rather deal with the headache of a hangover than the headache of a pandemic.

Featured photo illustration by János Marjai/MTI