Pubs, rather than supermarkets and off licences, are still the hardest hit by beer tax rises.
That's according to new research from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) in its third quarter Beer Barometer.
The Barometer showed pub beer sales down 4.3% from July to September, compared with the same period last year. Despite that, total beer sales rose by 1.6% thanks to increased sales in the off-trade, although beer sales in the same period a year before were particularly weak as a result of surplus stocks being run down following the Football World Cup.
The drop in pub beer sales is the equivalent to 45 million fewer pints sold over the quarter compared with last year, or 488,000 fewer per day. While the rate of decline is slowing, it has not bottomed out.
The BBPA blamed rising beer taxes at a time when real disposable incomes have fallen.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: "It is good to see some growth in the beer market overall, and we are seeing some new pubs opening, with successful operators innovating, and broadening their offer to consumers.
"However, there is no doubt that pubs continue to bear the brunt of Britain's punitive tax policies on beer. We've seen beer tax rise by 35% since March 2008, with Britons now paying an astonishing 40% of all the beer taxes collected in the entire European Union. This is still shutting pubs and costing jobs, in a sector that could create growth in the economy.
By Neil Gerrard
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