Pub beer sales see biggest fall since 1997
Pub beer sales fell nearly 10% in the last few months of 2008, underlining the plight of the struggling pub industry, according to new research.
The UK Quarterly Beer Barometer, published today by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), shows that pub beer sales were 9.9% lower in the final quarter of last year, with 1.4 million fewer pints sold a day.
Overall, 130 million fewer pints were sold through the on-trade from October to December 2008, compared with the same quarter in 2007.
With supermarket and off-licence sales in the period also down, by 6.5%, the performance represents the highest quarterly fall since record began in 1997.
The BBPA said the Government's beer tax revenues had plummeted by £181m since the March Budget as a result, despite beer tax rocketing by 18% last year.
Rob Hayward, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "These figures highlight the extreme economic pressures hitting the UK's beer and pub sector.
"Beer sales are sinking and many pubs are struggling to survive. Pub closures have escalated to nearly six a day. Unfortunately, government tax policy is only making a difficult situation worse."
Hayward said due to the Government's tax escalator and VAT policy the on-trade faced two more tax increases this year alone, as well as a potential £300m bill to fund a mandatory code of practice.
"We are not asking for a tax handout, like other sectors. We just don't want our tax burden to be made worse," Hayward said.
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By Chris Druce
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