Beer sales in the UK are showing signs of stabilising, according to the latest figures from the British Beer & Pub Association's (BBPA) 'Beer Barometer', with first quarter sales down just 1% from the same period last year.
The fall is the smallest first-quarter drop since 2008. While off trade sales slumped by 1.8%, the on-trade experienced more positive sales with a decline of 0.2% during January to the end of March - its smallest first-quarter decline since 2002.
According to the BBPA, total annual beer sales fell continually from 2005 to 2013, which saw beer sales slide by a massive 24%, with 6.7 million fewer pints sold per day. Tax on beer rose by 42% cent from 2008 to 2013, with typical duty per pint climbing to 56p.
Though sales grew by 1.3% in 2014, total annual sales for 2015 again fell into decline, with a drop-off of 0.7% from the previous year.
However, three successive beer duty cuts from Budget 2013, and a freeze in this year’s Budget, have helped to build confidence in the industry, says association chief executive Brigid Simmonds.
'Beer sales are certainly doing better overall, and there are good prospects for Q2, with Euro 2016 and The Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations a key draw for pubs,' she said.
'To avoid any return to the sharp declines in sales of recent years, we will need continued focus from the Government on the tax burden, not just on beer, but also on pubs, through a fairer business rates regime and other burdens on small business.'