Off-licence alcohol sales fall

05 February, 2010

Government statistics show the number of people buying alcohol from an off-licence over the course of the decade has dropped by almost a third.

The figures reinforce industry sales data which has consistently shown growth in supermarket drinks sales at the expense of specialist off-licences, contributing to the recent collapses of First Quench and Wine Cellar.

The Office for National Statistics figures show only 27% of the population bought alcohol from an off-licence in 2009, compared with 37% in 1998.

The number of people buying from supermarkets has increased from 69% to 72% over the same period.

Only 21% of women had bought anything from an off-licence in the past year, against 32% for men. Just 3% of women in the survey had bought drink from an off-licence in the previous week.

New figures show the average number of units drunk by adults is dropping. Its report, Smoking & Drinking Among Adults, shows adults consumed an average of 12.2 units of alcohol a week in 2008 – down from an average 13.5 in 2006.

The annual report surveyed 14,630 people and revealed professional adults drank more than manual workers, with 19% drinking on five or more days a week compared to 11% of manual workers.

WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: “The figures confirm the continued fall in overall alcohol consumption in the UK. They reflect changing consumer tastes around Europe with more drinking at home and a preference for drinking alcohol with a meal in a restaurant.

“Overall alcohol consumption has been falling for several years, suggesting government efforts to combat alcohol misuse should be focused on the minority who drink excessively, not the vast majority who enjoy a drink in moderation.”

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