The decline in pub beer sales is beginning to slow, with a 4.5 per cent drop in the second quarter of this year giving ‘some ground for cautious optimism.’
According to the British Beer and Pub Association’s (BBPA) UK Quarterly Beer Barometer, pub beer sales fell by almost 10 per cent in the last quarter of 2008, compared to the same period in 2007, and by 6.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2009.
But while beer sales in supermarkets and off-licenses are now falling at a faster rate than in pubs, David Long, chief executive of the BBPA, said the industry should be ‘wary’ of reading too much into the figures.
“Consumer spending on beer remains constrained in both pubs and supermarkets,” he said. “Considerable economic uncertainty remains about the short and medium term. We must therefore remain careful not to take too much from what are still disappointing figures.”
The continued decline in beer sales has had a knock-on effect on Government tax revenues from beer, which, despite further tax increases, have fallen by £156m compared to the first six months of last year,
The BBPA is continuing to urge the Government to reconsider its beer tax escalator and plans for a VAT increase in January, in order to allow the pub industry to act as a ‘strong engine for recovery’ for communities, tourism, jobs and Government revenue.