WSTA: gin and fizz are bolstering British pubs

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Rising up: spirits and wine sales have soared by 5% since last year
Rising up: spirits and wine sales have soared by 5% since last year
Wine and spirit sales in UK pubs account for more than one third (36%) of the value of alcohol sold, worth almost £6bn to pubs, according to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

This amount is an increase of £270m – up 5% on last year, according to the industry body. It added that there has been a huge rise in sales of sparkling wine and gin in recent years, thanks to the popularity of fizz and the ‘ginaissance’.

In the past five years, Brits have bought more than 24m bottles of sparkling wine, worth more than £600m in British pubs. In 2013, pubgoers spent less than £200m on fizz.

Gin has a similar story to tell because it brought in about £620m to pubs last year – £190m more than the previous year.

Research by CGA on behalf of the WSTA showed that, on average, four new spirit brands were added to the back bar since 2013, meaning there is now, on overage, 36 spirit brands behind the bar of a typical pub.

The rise of gin has meant that in the past 12 months, the spirit has accounted for more than half of all value growth in UK pubs.

Gin sales in pubs grew by a staggering £190m, compared to beer sales, which grew by an additional £58m.

High duty rates

Despite the boost fizz and gin has brought to pubs, the trade remains at threat of closure, stifled by the UK’s high duty rates, according to the WSTA.

Licensees across the nation have had to pay huge duty bills, totalling more than £820m on wine and spirits alone. This is the equivalent of almost £17,000 per pub.

The total duty collected from pubs across Britain in the past 21 months has hit £2.1bn. If Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond increases the duty rates on alcohol, pubs across the nation stand to lose an additional £28m next year. The WSTA claims this would cost each pub £558.

The group recently commissioned a study by accounting firm EY that concluded a duty freeze was “the most favourable outcome for the UK economy”.

In November last year, the Chancellor put a freeze on duty and received an additional £380m from February and August. A rise of 6% on the same period the previous year.

Hammond’s planned 3.4% rise in line with inflation would undermine an industry already facing a tough time, with the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) estimating an average of 18 pubs closing a week.

The further rise of 3.4% would add another 7p on a bottle of still wine, 9p on a bottle of bubbles​ and 26p to a bottle of spirits.

Importance of wine and spirits

The WSTA is calling on the Chancellor to repeat his actions from the November Budget in 2017, and freeze alcohol duty to support the pub trade.

During his Budget speech last year, Hammond said: “Recognising the pressure on household budgets and backing our great British pubs, duties on other ciders, wine, spirits and on beer will be frozen.”

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “The Chancellor can once again show his support for the great British pub by scrapping his plans to raise already punitive duty rate.

“Wine and spirits are increasingly vital to the prosperity of our historic British pubs with wine and spirit duty accounting for more than a third of annual pub sales.

“We are calling on Philip Hammond to recognise the importance of the wine and spirit industry and help save our British pubs by freezing duty, allowing them to reinvest and stay in business.

“It is proven that freezing alcohol duty has brought in more revenue for the Treasury coffers, not less so a duty freeze makes sense for everyone – from the Chancellor, to pub and bar owners, and consumers.”

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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