Off-trade faces tough time ahead

The off-trade has seen sales grow by less than 8% since 2003 - and future expansion will be hard to achieve, according to a new report.

Research & Markets (Dublin) has published its Take-home Trade Market Report 2008, analysing the

sector .

"We estimate that the UK market for take-home alcoholic drinks was worth £13.55 billion in 2007, representing a 2.1% increase on the figure for 2006 and a mere 7.7% growth in sales since 2003," it says.

"Strong growth in the value of sales has been hard to achieve because of price competition among the multiple grocers - Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons - which


take-home ."

It adds: "Economic uncertainty and pricing difficulties mean that we predict fairly slow growth for the take-home market between 2008 and 2012. Some

growth will come from the ban on smoking in on-trade premises, which may persuade smokers to drink at home."

The report highlights the importance of new trends , such as rosé wine and over-ice cider. It predicts younger drinkers are likely to be increasingly interested in cocktails in the next five years.

There is a now a strong chance the UK will enter a recession over the next year as the credit crunch squeezes consumer spending, economists believe.

Opinions differ on how badly the food and drinks industry will be affected.

Richard Dodd, of the British Retail Consortium, told OLN:

We are still seeing growth in food and drink, and there is no evidence consumers are cutting back on purchases of alcoholic drinks."