Just days after the Chancellor announced a further increase in beer tax, latest figures from the British Beer and Pub Association’s (BBPA) UK Quarterly Beer Barometer reveal total beer sales have fallen by 8.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2009.
While UK off-trade sales fell by 11 per cent for the third consecutive quarter, pub beer sales fell by 6.3 per cent, equating to 68m fewer pints than the same period last year.
David Long, chief executive of the BBPA, said the fall in beer sales has not only had a huge impact on the communities that have seen their local pub close, but also on the Government’s beer duty revenues that have fallen by £17m since last year, despite 2008’s 18 per cent beer tax hike.
“These figures provide more telling evidence of the intense pressure in one of Britain’s most important sectors,” he said. “Falling beer sales means more publicans struggling to keep their pub doors open. Closing pubs means tens of thousands of job losses and the heart taken out of many communities. With the Budget last week, Government tax policy continues to make this situation worse, despite widespread public and political support.”
Despite enlisting the support of 90 per cent of the population, as well as over 200 MPs, including 97 Labour backbenchers, the BBPA and CAMRA`s Axe the Beer Tax - Save the Pub campaign failed to influence the Chancellor’s decision to further increase beer tax by 2 per cent in last week’s budget.