Feb 24, 2024 - Health

Dry January has become Dry February and beyond

Data: NIQ; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: NIQ; Chart: Axios Visuals

For many, the "damp" or "dry" lifestyle has gone beyond January.

Why it matters: This year, huge interest in the annual booze-free challenge Dry January marked a change in the way American adults think about alcohol.

  • The shift has to do with the fact that longevity and sleep have become major health priorities.

By the numbers: Although alcoholic beer sales are fairly flat, non-alcoholic beer sales are on the rise in the U.S., according to NIQ, which tracks buying behavior.

Zoom in: The search term "Dry February" is being Googled more than ever in the U.S., with search interest this month 30% higher than last February, according to Google Trends' Katie Seaton.

  • And search interest in "Dry January" has increased every January since 2014, while search interest for "Damp January" nearly doubled this month compared to January 2023, Seaton told Axios.

What they're saying: "I plan to continue Dry January throughout the year," Phil Mayer, 34, told Axios at a recent alcohol-free event in Venice, California.

  • He said abstaining from alcohol led to more focus, less anxiety and more exercise in his daily life — sentiments echoed by several other non-drinkers.
  • The equation for limiting drinking is simple for Mai Tran, 38: "I don't like being hungover," she told Axios
  • Another reason a number of people said they changed their drinking habits: WHOOP or other fitness trackers indicated that alcohol was inhibiting their sleep.

State of play: It's not just soda water and juice anymore — alcohol-free options have gotten much more complex.

Yes, but: Sophisticated zero-proof beverages can actually be more costly than alcoholic drinks.

  • For example, some alcohol-free wine involves the same grape fermentation process as traditional wine, plus an additional process: dealcoholization.
  • "So it's actually, in many cases, more expensive to produce non-alcoholic beverages than alcoholic beverages," says Brianda Gonzalez, owner of alcohol-free store The New Bar.

What's next: Alcohol-free beer is already big, but alcohol-free wine has major potential.

  • Gonzalez says a growing number of customers are replacing their ritualistic evening wine glass — which often hurts their sleep quality — with a dealcoholized version.

Go deeper: The best non-alcoholic beers

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