But there is good news in the latest Annual Statistical Handbook, which reports the first annual rise in UK beer sales since 2004, with sales up 1.3% in 2014.
For the first time on record, in 2014 beer sales in the off-trade (50.5%) exceeded those in the on-trade (49.5%). But for all alcohol, just 32.6% of sales were made through the on-trade; the lowest proportion on record.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive, said: “It’s great to see beer putting in such a solid performance in 2014, while at the same time, the trends in alcohol harm are coming down.”
UK alcohol consumption as a whole remained stable in 2014, and is 19% lower than at the recent peak in 2004, with the UK ranked 19th in EU per capita alcohol consumption.
Tax revenue reaches new high
Analysis on taxation shows that the sector remains a very healthy source of tax revenues for the Treasury, despite recent cuts in duty.
In 2014/15 Government tax receipts from alcohol sales (made up of excise duties and VAT) reached a new high of £18.4bn.
At £6.2bn, revenues from beer made up 34% of the total.
The BBPA says there is still huge scope to cut beer duties in the UK, as the Handbook reports that the duty paid on each UK pint remains the second highest in the EU at 52.2p, trailing only Finland at 64.6p.
The duty rate in the UK is now an astonishing 14 times that in Europe’s largest beer market, Germany.
Scope for growth
The hospitality sector remains a key economic sector for jobs and the economy; employment in the sector grew by over 9%, or 151,000 new jobs, in 2014.
Simmonds continued: “Our comprehensive Stats Handbook also shows that with the right policies for the hospitality sector, there is huge scope for growing the economy, creating new jobs and careers.”
The brewing industry has seen rapid expansion, with 1,700 open in 2014 – up from 500 in 2000.
Figures also show the continuing decline in indicators of the harmful use of alcohol. The proportion of young people (11-15) that have tried alcohol fell from 20% in 2007 to just 8% in 2014.