Pub beer sales down 2.9%

By Liam Coleman contact

- Last updated on GMT

Down: on-trade beer volume sales continued to decline
Down: on-trade beer volume sales continued to decline

Related tags: Beer sales, British pub confederation, Public house, Alcoholic beverage, 2015, British beer & pub association

More than 100,000 fewer barrels of beer were sold in pubs in the final months of 2016 compared to the year before, while off-trade beer sales continued to rise, according to figures from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

From October to December 2016, pubs sold 3,325,000 barrels of beer compared to 3,426,000 barrels sold in the same months in 2015 - a decline of 2.9%.

However, this drop in volume sales is slower than previously experienced in the on-trade over the past decade with a slump of 26.5% seen in volume sales between the final months of 2006 and the end of 2010.

BBPA's chief executive Brigid Simmonds said the figures further showed the need for a cut in beer duty.

"While overall beer sales have stabilised following years of sharp decline under the beer duty escalator, these latest figures show that more action is needed to ease the tax burden on brewers, pubs and pubgoers.

"For the Budget, the Government has currently earmarked a tax rise for beer, but this would begin to undo much of the great work done in recent years, with three duty cuts and a freeze, from 2013. Recent Budgets have shown that reducing beer duty is a low-cost, targeted measure, that can make a real difference," she said.

Off-trade thrives

Despite the on-trade seeing a reduction in beer sales, sales of beer continued to grow in the off-trade with the report showing that 0.7% more beer was sold at the end of 2016 in the off-trade than the year before.

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) said that this showed a "completely unfair disparity in operating costs for on and off-trade businesses".

"The fall in on-trade sales and the increase in off-trade sales once again highlights the huge and completely unfair disparity in operating costs for on and off-trade businesses.

"Pub and bars are still paying 18p per pint in rates compared to 2p per pint for supermarkets. If we are serious about addressing the continuing fall in the amount of on-trade beer sold compared to supermarkets, the only way we can do this is by tackling the property costs that uniquely affect pubs and bars," the ALMR CEO Kate Nicholls, added.

'A worry to pubs'

The British Pub Confederation agreed that the decline in on-trade beer sales should be seen against the backdrop of increased operating costs for licensees.

Secretary of the confederation Simon Clarke said: "The idea of cutting a penny off each pint is a distraction. Landlords are looking at having to add an extra 5p on to a pint due to rates rises."

Meanwhile, the group's chair, Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland, added: "The British Pub Confederation champions pubs and publicans, and a reduction in beer sales is a worry to pubs. There are still far too many viable pubs closed by pubcos, developers and supermarkets – the latter, of course, who continue to sell beer too cheaply, which helps neither pubs nor breweries."

Related topics: Beer

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