Pubs are still the hardest hit by beer tax rises, according to research from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
According to the association's latest Beer Barometer, pubs have seen a 6% fall in beer sales in the first quarter of 2012. The drop amounts to 57 million fewer pints sold, compared with the same period last year.
Overall beer sales fell by 1.4% in the quarter as off-trade sales were up nearly 5%. However, beer sales are now falling at their slowest rate in the past four years.
In the 12 months to March 2012, overall beer sales were down 2.9%, following the 7% rise in beer duty last March.
The BBPA warned that current pressures on the beer and pub industry reiterate the Government's poor decision to raise beer tax by a further 5% in the budget. Overall beer tax has risen a staggering 42% in the past four years.
The recent Budget tax increase came under the controversial ‘duty escalator' policy, which the BBPA and Oxford Economics argue will cost more than 5,000 jobs in the next two years.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: "These figures show the Chancellor was totally wrong to raise beer tax again in his Budget, as this discredited policy continues to hit pubs hard.
"This key British industry could be an engine of growth for the economy - but poor tax policy is damaging our potential."
By Kerstin Kühn
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