The figures from the latest Beer Barometer from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) showed sales had fallen from a 3.4% rise in Q1 last year (the first time the industry had seen an increase in this period for beer sales since 2004.
This drop in sales had an impact on both the on- and off-trade with sales dropping by 1.9% and 1.5% respectively, compared to Q1 2017.
The figures showed that in the past decade, beer sales in the first quarter of each year in the on-trade fell from 4m barrels in 2008 to 2.7m in 2018.
In the second quarter (Q2) of each year, volume sales dropped from 4.5m in 2008 to the latest figures for Q2 last year at 3.4m.
For the third quarter of the year, sales in 2008 were 4.4m and in the same period for 2017, the number had decreased to 3.2m. In the last quarter, 2008 saw sales of 4.3m and in 2017, this dropped to 3.3m.
In fact, the biggest drop in beer sales over the last 18 years was in the second quarter of 2008 where sales fell by 10.3% when compared to Q2 in 2007.
However it was not all bad news as Q1 of 2002 was the only period to see an increase in beer sales, when compared to the same quarter in the previous year as sales rose by 0.9%.
Last year the industry took a £130m hit with the duty rise in the March Budget and while November’s duty freeze was a welcome move, the BBPA urged the Government to support beer and keep a pint in the pub affordable for drinkers.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Beer sales experienced another fall at the beginning of the year and the industry will be hoping for better prospects this summer, especially as the FIFA World Cup will be a big draw to the pub.
“What is still needed is a continued focus from the Government to reduce the tax burden on beer and pubs to ensure their success in the future.”
On-trade beer sales over the past 18 years (volume in ,000s of barrels) in the first quarter of each year:
2000 – 5,246
2001 – 5,022
2002 – 5,069
2003 – 4,901
2004 – 4,833
2005 – 4,701
2006 – 4,470
2007 – 4,298
2008 – 3,950
2009 – 3,720
2010 – 3,415
2011 – 3,355
2012 – 3,190
2013 – 3,021
2014 – 2,930
2015 – 2,862
2016 – 2,850
2017 – 2,751
2018 – 2,698
Figures from the British Beer & Pub Association