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UK beer sales hit highest level in 45 years

UK beer sales hit highest level in 45 years

Here's some good news that defies the beer-is-in-decline doomsayers: the British Beer & Pub Association 2018 Beer Barometer reports total beer sales across the UK on- and off-trade are up 2.6% compared to 2017.

Off-trade sales were strongest, at 4.7%, while on-trade sales rose 0.1%. That's the biggest year-on-year growth in beer sales in 45 years. 

Although the year got off to a rocky start, increased beer sales in Q2 and Q3 2018 were driven by the success of England at the World Cup, which saw the national team reach the semi-finals of the tournament, driving footfall in pubs where fans watched the games.

Increased beer sales in Q2 and Q3 2018 were also driven in part by good weather, which encouraged people to get out and visit their local, making full use of the pub garden.

Sales also received a boost when the UK government froze the beer tax in the 2018 Autumn Budget.

The Association noted: "Although the World Cup was a welcome boost to pubs this year, leading to a notable increase in beer sales, it only comes around once every four years. This means pubs cannot rely on it for growth. Good weather cannot be relied on by pubs or off trade businesses to boost beer sales either.

"The Chancellor’s decision to freeze beer duty in his most recent Budget was therefore very welcome and appears to have had an immediate impact on the industry, with beer sales increasing in Q4 2018. In particular, pubs benefited from a strong end to 2018 with beer sales growing by 2.2% in Q4 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. This was the first time Q4 beer sales grew in the on trade since 2011."

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of British Beer & Pub Association, said it had been a good year for beer and pubs.

“Considering the heavy cost burdens the industry faces from high beer duty, business rates and rising costs in general, it’s great to see beer sales doing the best they have for some years,” she said.

“This shows just how important reducing the beer tax burden is to boosting sales of beer and helping pubs with their footfall,” she said. “As the UK’s alcoholic drink of choice, which continues to have a much bigger, positive impact on the UK economy than any other drink, it is important that beer continues to do well and that the Chancellor continues to support pubs.”