Covid-19 causes dramatic drop in craft beer sales, warns SIBA

Jacopo Mazzeo

Jacopo Mazzeo

17 April 2020

A survey run by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) suggests that independent British breweries have suffered an 82% decrease in sales since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic

The survey, based on 282 respondents and conducted from 9-14 April 2020, also suggests that 65% of breweries had to stop production altogether, as the government’s decision to close on-trade venues meant that independent breweries’ main route to market has been entirely cut-off.

‘Unlike the global beer brands who can supply supermarkets in great volume, small independent breweries sell the majority of their beer through pubs, bars and restaurants, meaning the lockdown measures have hit them much harder,’ commented SIBA’s chief executive James Calder. ‘While many have launched local delivery services or online shops to try to stay afloat, the increase in online sales is a drop in the ocean compared to the overall decrease their beer sales have seen.’

Small breweries urgently need a package of measures to keep them going

James Calder

SIBA’s investigation found that eight out of 10 breweries believe the government isn’t doing enough to support them, as over half of the respondents (54%) were unable to access any government funding. 29% of them are considering redundancies as a consequence.

‘Pubs, bars and restaurants have been receiving help from the government, but none of the same schemes apply to our small breweries who saw their sales fall off a cliff almost overnight,’ said Calder. ‘They urgently need a package of measures to keep them going otherwise many won’t be able to reopen.’

Lastly, the survey reports that 70% of the respondents are now offering delivery or takeaway services. Some however, don’t benefit from the relevant licenses to deliver beer direct to consumers, therefore SIBA is calling for a relaxation of licensing laws, which ‘should come as part of a targeted package of support for breweries and the brewery supply chain to match the level received by pubs, including making the grants and exemptions from business rates offered to pubs applicable to breweries’.

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