The drop in on trade sales represented 139 million fewer pints of beers consumed in pubs in 2011 but the industry fared better than the off trade sector and the rate of decline was the slowest in seven years.
Total beer sales fell by 3.5 per cent last year and by 1.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011. The latest quarterly Beer Barometer revealed that pub sales in 2011 declined at a slower rate than in previous years and fell by the slowest quarterly rate (1.1 per cent) in ten years.
The BBPA estimated these figures led to 9,000 fewer jobs in the beer sector in the last year, mainly in pubs.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said the smaller fall was led in part by fewer pub closures but the beer sale decline could be further halted with a cut in beer duty or removal of the 'escalator' policy on the tax on beer.
"The decline in beer sales has slowed, but these figures show the sector cannot afford another round of inflation-busting, beer tax hikes in the Budget. This will delay any potential recovery in an iconic and economically vital British industry. A change of course, giving brewers and pubs a chance to invest and expand their operations could create over five thousand jobs in 2012 which should be a great year for British beer and pubs," she said.
Beer duty was increased by 7.2 per cent in the March 2011 Budget. The Government’s beer tax ‘escalator’ policy means increases of two per cent above inflation until the 2014/2015 financial year.
Off trade weaker than on trade
For the first time since the European football championships were held in the country in 1996, beer sales fell by more in off trade than in pubs. Off trade sales dropped by 3.7 per cent or 136 million pints.
The BBPA members account for 96 per cent of the beer brewed in the UK and around half of Britain’s pubs.