UK has fourth highest booze prices in Europe

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Triple whammy: alcohol prices have been impacted by Brexit's effect on sterling, rising inflation and a duty rise
Triple whammy: alcohol prices have been impacted by Brexit's effect on sterling, rising inflation and a duty rise
The average price of alcohol in the UK is 42.7% higher than the EU average – the fourth highest in Europe beaten only by Sweden, Ireland and Finland, according to new research.

The figures, from the Office of National Statistics, found that the French pay 11% below the EU average for their alcohol, the Spanish pay 16% less and in Bulgaria, they pay 35% less.

The UK also pays the fourth highest duty level on spirits and third highest duty rates for wine and beer in Europe.

Sales of wine in pubs, bars and restaurants show an average-priced 175ml glass of wine has risen to £3.74, up 20p compared to 2016.

Prices have been affected by the triple whammy resulting in Brexit’s impact on the pound, rising inflation and the 3.9% inflationary duty rise on alcohol imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequor at the Budget last March.

Creeping costs

A YouGov poll found that four out of five respondents were concerned about the prospect of paying higher prices for food and drink.

Consumers expressed unease at creeping costs, with 80% of people polled confirming their concern over the prospect of paying higher prices, up from 71% in February.

Some 14 countries in the EU have zero duty rates for wine. resulting in just 21% of the price of a bottle of wine sold in France or Spain being taken up in tax and only 19% in Germany.

Wine & Spirit Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale outlined his concern that high duty will hit the UK’s tourism industry too.

Excessively high duty

He said: “Despite the chancellor delivering a welcome and much-needed freeze on wine and spirit duty in the November Budget, we still have a long way to go to rebalance the UK’s excessively high duty rates.

“British consumers will find it a hard fact to swallow that they are paying well above average for the luxury of enjoying a drink.

“In this cold weather people are looking at summer holiday destinations and these alcohol price comparisons make a holiday to France, Spain or Bulgaria a very attractive prospect.

“Our disproportionately high prices are not helping Britain promote itself as an attractive destination for tourists.

“The Government should do more to rebalance duty, and offer British consumers a fairer deal and tourists to the UK a more attractive proposition – both of which would support the more than 550,000 people working in the UK’s wine and spirit industry.”

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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