Brits spend £3.5 billion a week on booze this festive season, WaterAid finds

Posted by
Lisa Martin
19 December 2019
United Kingdom, Fundraising, Our supporters, Fundraising
WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala

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The festive season is upon us and collectively British adults are set to spend an astonishing £3.5 billion a week on alcohol, according to new research released by WaterAid as it invites people to take on its Just Water challenge. 

As the party season ramps up, Brits increase their weekly spending on alcohol by 27% to £65.39, compared to £51.68 on a normal week. Surveyed women’s spending escalates the most by 52% more over Christmas (£34.06 to £51.78), whereas for men the rise is just 14%, but their spending is much higher (£69.39 to £79.08).

Meanwhile, Brits spend over £429 million in total a week to get their caffeine fix, with one in 12 spending over £20 a week on teas and coffees, totting up to over £1,000 a year.

The international charity asked more than 2,000 people from all over the UK about their drinking habits as it invites Brits to take the ultimate abstinence challenge this January by signing up for its Just Water initiative. In this extreme test of willpower, people have to drink only water while raising money to help to bring clean water and transform lives in some of the world’s poorest community.

A third of people surveyed (33%) said one of their New Year’s resolutions will be to spend less and save money this January, while 14% will cut down on alcohol, 11% will reduce their caffeine intake, and 8% will welcome in the new decade by committing to go tee-total. With Just Water, people can save money and commit to a detox while supporting a good cause.

WaterAid’s survey showed that respondents in Greater London splash out the most out of all regions on boozy drinks during the festive season, spending on average £99 per week (an increase of 9% on a normal week’s spend of £91). Whilst for those surveyed in Northern Ireland, there is a huge increase with drinkers spending on average 93% more on getting merry with alcoholic drinks at Christmas time (£39/week) than during a normal week (£20), but they are also the lowest spenders on average.

Surveyed men may be biggest spenders on beer, wine and spirits and other alcoholic drinks compared to women but come January 2020, they are also the most likely to be cutting down or binning the booze altogether with over 23% having these good intentions, compared to 20% of women. 

Regionally, hangovers will be a thing of the past for those in the West Midlands with 28% of those surveyed making the resolution to drop the drinking, followed by Greater Londoners and those in the South East (both 24%). However, surveyed Glaswegians will be the driest of all, with 32% planning to cut down or ditch alcohol during January.

Marcus Missen, Director of Communications and Fundraising at WaterAid, said:

“By taking part in the toughest abstinence challenge, Just Water, people can improve their health, save money and ultimately transform lives by helping give the gift of clean water to some of the world’s poorest communities. 

“We’re hoping to raise over £80,000 to help thousands of people who are denied clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene simply because of who they are, how much money they have, or where they live. Everyone everywhere deserves to have safe, clean water close to home. No one should have their access denied.”

WaterAid is inviting people to sign up to Just Water this January, raising money by giving up all drinks other than water for a month, or longer, and giving others the gift of clean water. To sign up, please visit


For more information, please contact:

Lisa Martin on 020 7793 4524, L[email protected]  or
Laura Crowley, PR manager, [email protected] on
+44 (0)207 793 4965. 

Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552 or email [email protected]

Notes to Editors:

Survey information

The survey was conducted by CensusWide. The fieldwork took place between 30 November – 3 December 2019 across the UK, with the total sample size comprising 2,013 people.


WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 26.4 million people with clean water and 26.3 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit, follow @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at

  • 785 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.[1]
  • 2 billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]
  • Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's almost 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]
  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[5]

[1] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[2] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[3] Prüss-Ustün et al. (2014) and The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2018)

[4] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage