Off-trade beer decline 'biggest since 1978'

29 January, 2010

Off-trade beer sales fell by 3.1% in 2009, according to the British Beer & Pub Association – the biggest decline since records began in 1978.

Sales for the beer market as a whole fell by 4.2% - depressing news for the industry, but it was a better performance than in 2008 when sales declined by 5.5%.

Indeed the BBPA believes the industry may be starting to turn the corner. Fourth quarter results for 2009 show the lowest falls in sales for two years, at 3.6%.

Sales in pubs, bars and restaurants were down 5% in the final three months of 2009 compared with the same period in 2008. On-trade sales for the whole of 2009 were down 5.2% – an improvement on the 9.3% slump in 2008 and 6.5% fall in 2007.

Beer sales in supermarkets and shops declined by 2.1% in the final three months of 2009, compared to a fall of 6.4% in the same period in 2008, the BBPA said.

Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “These figures show a sector starting to claw its way out of a recessionary slump.

“They also signal the most significant driver of problems in the pub sector over the last 12 to 18 months has been the down turn in the economy and the slide into recession, along with duty increases of over 20%. As the economy moves into recovery, so will the beer and pub sector. In fact, as in previous recessions, it may emerge first and fastest.”

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