Community boozers are suffering the most as sales of alcohol continue to slide in the on-trade, new research has revealed.
In a survey of 2,467 outlets by trade body the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) liquor sales were found to have declined by 3.6% over the crucial Christmas and New Year period.
Sales of food rose by an average of 3.6% during the same period.
The figures also showed a large variance in trade across the country with sales of liquor falling 12% in the most extreme cases and increasing 12% in other parts of the country.
The ALMR said that community locals were suffering the worst with half of those reporting growth in alcohol sales (36%) having estate of at least 20 to 50 pubs and up.
Confidence among licensed retailers remains low at present with more than half (57.5%) feeling "gloomy" about the prospects for trade in the first quarter of the year.
However 48% see things improving and are hopeful about their chances in the rest of 2008.
ALMR chairman Nick Bish said: "Food obviously held up strongly as you would expect at this time of year but the note of caution is that it costs more to serve and net margins are lower; so turnover may be up but this doesn't necessarily translate into profit."
By Christopher Walton
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