British drinkers remain the booziest in Western Europe even though they are swigging less alcohol in pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants, says a new report from market analyst Datamonitor.
The average Brit swilled the equivalent of 2.2 pints (or 63ml of alcohol) of booze on each pub visit in 2005, 5ml less than in 2000.
This compares with a European average of 1.8 pints and an abstemious low of 1.1 pints in Sweden. Only Germans and Spaniards, who average 1.9 pints per trip, came close to the British.
The bad news for publicans is that Brits are drinking out of the home less frequently, consuming less alcohol per visit and spending more on soft drinks instead.
On-trade alcohol volumes have fallen by 0.5% per year since 2000 across Western Europe, most steeply in Germany and the UK (where total volumes have fallen from 272 million litres to 251 million litres).
While the number of on-trade trips has risen across Western Europe to 26.2 billion, it has fallen slightly in the UK to 3.9 billion visits (equivalent to 1.3 trips per person per week).
"Going out is becoming less and less about drinking and alcohol consumption is becoming something that people do at home," said Datamonitor analyst John Bland. "It's clear that the culture of binge drinking is on its way out, with British consumption per occasion falling closer in line with the levels seen on the Continent."
By Angela Frewin