No- and low-alcohol beverages are currently experiencing high sales growth in the UK, but academic research regarding the production, regulation, marketing and consumption of these drinks remains limited. This article presents research findings from ethnographic customer observations and semi-structured staff interviews at Club Soda’s temporary “alcohol-free off-licence” in London – the UK’s first shop that sold exclusively no- and low-alcohol drinks. I analyse the demographics of who came to the off-licence, and how and why they engaged with no- and low-alcohol drinks. Findings suggest that relatively equal numbers of non-drinkers and current drinkers were customers of the off-licence, but there were differences across gender, ethnicity, and age groups. No- and low-alcohol drinks supported customers’ alcohol-free lifestyles or attempts to drink mindfully. However, whether customers were former drinkers, lifelong abstainers or current drinkers influenced what products they sought from the off-licence and shaped how these products were used in (non-)drinking practices. This paper also highlights the role of the off-licence as a stigma-free, sober space where customers could try no- and low-alcohol products, prior to purchase, and find connection with others.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.