British drinkers are increasingly favouring premium drinks from branded pubs and upmarket bars, according to new data from CGA's alcohol sales tracker.
It continues a long-term slowdown as British consumers scale back their drinking habit and spend a little more money on fewer drinks. The reduction has been most apparent in London, where growth in the value of sales has more than halved in the last year.
The tracker reveals a particular drop in sales of alcoholic drinks through leased and tenanted pubs, and only marginal growth among independent operators. Instead, consumers are increasingly opting to drink at premium bars and managed pubs, often combining their visits with eating.
CGA classifies 35% of the out-of-home drinking market as premium-but these outlets now account for 47% of all sales by value, and are gaining market share each year. Sales growth through the managed pub sector is also healthy, standing at 2.8% in the year to mid-June.
Amongst the trends revealed by the data is the above-average sales value growth of 2% in the cider sector, partly driven by the warm spring and early summer weather, powerful brand marketing and the rising popularity of artisan producers. By contrast, sales growth in spirits has halved in the past year.
The research suggests that more drinkers are heeding messages about healthy levels of alcohol consumption, and are becoming more adventurous in their choices when they do decide to go out.
CGA chief executive Phil Tate said: "The small fall in volume sales rebuts the much-publicised idea that levels of unhealthy drinking are soaring, suggesting instead that consumers are continuing to demand better quality when they choose to drink out.
"Brands that can supply their customers with the right range, atmosphere and experience, and establish clear points of difference from the mainstream, will be best placed to thrive in the years ahead."
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