Off-trade beer sales maintain growth

The trend that has seen Brits choosing to drink beer at home rather than go to the pub has continued as off-trade beer sales grew 0.3% in volume in the year to September 2016.

The British Beer and Pub Association’s quarterly Beer Barometer has tracked UK beer volume sales since 2000 and has shown a steady increase in retail sales.

In September 2000 annual off-trade volume sales stood at 11.4 million barrels, while on-trade volumes were 23.7 million barrels.

Now the off-trade has grown to 13.7 million barrels, while the on-trade has dwindled to 13 million barrels.

Sales in the on-trade have been steadily tumbling since 2003, and are down 2.1% in the past year, so the gap only looks set to widen.

The off-trade first overtook the on-trade halfway through 2015 in terms of volume sales per quarter.

But both channels suffered in Q3 of 2016, with both seeing volumes fall 3.4%. The off-trade has posted growth in six of the last 10 quarters, while the on-trade has declined in all 10.

Despite a poor July-September performance, the BBPA was upbeat and said “the trend is still broadly positive for the UK’s favourite pub drink”.

Brigid Simmonds, BPBA chief executive, said: “While the overall trend is moving in the right direction, with the challenges of Brexit, it is vital we continue to enjoy supportive tax policies that boost consumer confidence in beer and pubs. We do need to see further beer tax cuts, so that we can compete with our European neighbours when we leave the EU, as many of these countries benefit from substantially lower tax rates on beer.”

David Cunningham, programme director of There’s A Beer For That – Britain’s Beer Alliance, added: “Despite category volume growth remaining fragile, value growth continues to improve year on year. We continue to track positive changes in consumer attitude and behaviour towards beer. Beer penetration, usage and consideration have improved year on year and people are increasingly choosing to drink a beer with their meal in pubs, bars, restaurant and at home. However, there is still plenty of work to be done collectively to demonstrate beer’s quality, diversity and versatility.”

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