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BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds: fourth quarter gain in on-trade volumes an immediate benefit of Chancellor's freeze on beer duty

Good news: beer sales up in 2018  

And while a gain of 2.8% may not sound like a lot in isolation, the British Beer and Pub Association notes that it’s the highest percentage gain in year-on-year beer sales in 45 years.

For the 12 months to year-end December beer sales totalled 27.605 thousand barrels, up from 26.916 barrels in 2017. The gain also marked the second consecutive year beer sales increased in the UK. 

Encouragingly for the on-trade, beer sales were up 0.1% for 2018 over 2017, with this the first gain recorded since at least the dawn of this Millennium. There was a strong fourth quarter performance to put the on-trade into the black, with sales having increased by 2.2%. 

Off-trade sales rose by 4.7% to 14.953 thousand barrels. This marks the sixth consecutive year that beer sales have risen in the off-trade, dating back to 2013.

Top line figures aside, the bad news were the drivers behind the growth, with BBPA crediting both England’s sterling performance in football’s World Cup as well as unusually hot summer. While global warming trends may promise more of the latter, Euro 2020, with the tournament’s semi-finals and final to be played at Wembley Stadium, is two year’s away. 

“2018 has 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,” said BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds.

“The Chancellor’s decision in the 2018 Autumn Budget to freeze beer tax also appears to have had an immediate impact, with sales of beer in pubs growing in the last quarter of 2018 by 2.2%. This shows just how important reducing the beer tax burden is to boosting sales of beer and helping pubs with their footfall. 

“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.”

Larry Nelson
15th February 2019

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