Figures from the British Beer & Pub Association showed a 0.1% increase in beer volumes from January to March after falls of 5.9%, 6.5% and 7.5% in the last three quarters of 2012.
Though the figure for the first quarter of 2013 was an improvement, it still compared unfavourably with growth in the same period last year when take-home sales rose 4.6%.
Total sales for the first quarter of this year were down 2.9% and on-trade volumes dropped 5.5%. The BBPA said the hard winter was a major reason behind the differing fortunes of the two trade sectors, with beer drinkers opting to stay at home rather than go to the pub.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds added: “The figures show the Chancellor was right to cut beer duty and abolish the escalator, given the huge tax rises in recent years.
“We would hope to see the benefits in second quarter sales, where brewers will see beer tax rates at nearly 7% lower than they were due to be.”