Downturn hits off-trade sales

31 October, 2008

BBPA says 6% drop in beer sales reflects hard times and tough taxation

Beer sales dropped 6% in the third quarter of 2008, compared with the same period in 2007, as the global economic crisis hit s consumers and spreads the long-term decline in on-trade beer sales

across the off-trade.

The sharp decline follow ed 3.8% growth in off-trade beer sales in April-June.

The British Beer & Pub Association said the drop

was a symptom

of a n ongoing trend. " [This] is a clear sign of a worsening economy

and weakening spending," said chief executive Rob Hayward.

"The downturn has now broadened to affect sales through both pubs and supermarkets. This sales trend is symptomatic of the problems infecting the broader economy. But any prudent diagnosis would also identify the specific impact of the Budget's 9% beer tax increase and the constant stream of costly regulatory burdens flowing from the government's alcohol strategy. These policies are making a bad situation worse."

Overall, third-quarter beer sales dropped 7.2% , while sales in pubs plummeted 8.1%. In the year to September, beer sales fell 4.4% from the previous year, with sales in pubs, bars and restaurants down 9% and off-trade sales creeping up 2.1%.

The BBPA has long been among the

on-trade voices calling for a curb on off-trade discounting,

blaming cheap supermarket drink for the decline of

pub s' beer sales - so its admission that

a drop is part of a wider

trend

is something of a U-turn.

Hayward called on the government to ease the tax and regulatory burden on the drinks trade.

Nielsen showed off-trade beer sales creeping up 2% in the year to Aug 9, while on-trade sales dropped 5% by value and 9% by volume.




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