The beer, wine and spirits industry has suffered its worst month in history as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with the loss of $8.5 billion in revenue in April.
The shutdown of pubs, clubs and bars to spare Australia's from the worst of the deadly virus also cost the industry almost half a million in hospitality jobs, Alcohol Beverages Australia says.
"Despite some initial pantry filling in March, April has been the worst month on record for sales of beer, wine and spirit," its chief executive officer Andrew Wilsmore said in a statement on Sunday.
"The biggest category, beer saw a 44 per cent drop in April and cider saw the biggest decline at 61 per cent due to the loss of social occasions."
Small and medium sized wine produces who rely on restaurants as their main route to market also reported losses of up to 70 per cent.
Meanwhile, local distillers witnessed revenue declines of up to 80 per cent, with the shut down of regional tourism adding to the tale of woe.
"We knew that the total loss of trade from pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants was never going to be made up for by a brief, small surge in panic buying during the week people were concerned bottleshops would also close," Mr Wilsmore said.
Faced with the "crippling" loss of jobs and revenue, Mr Wilsmore is calling on the nation's political leaders to have a "laser-like focus" on job creation and minimising regulatory and tax burdens coming out of the crisis.
"This will be vital to our successful revival so that we can continue to provide employment opportunities and future careers for young Australians," Mr Wilsmore said.
Australian Associated Press