Figures released today from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) show that beer sales in pubs and clubs – the so-called on-trade businesses – were down 5.5 per cent year-on-year in the first three months of 2013, which was the biggest decline seen since the final quarter of 2010.
Meanwhile, beer sales in off-trade businesses, such as supermarkets and off-licences, were up 0.1 per cent.
If pub sales continue to fall, off-trade sales could overtake on-trade in the next few months. At 3m barrels’ worth of beer, on-trade sales are narrowly above the 2.6m barrels’ worth from off-trade, with combined sales down 2.9 per cent down on last year.
A decade ago, on-trade sales were 4.9m barrels, with off-trade under half of that at 2.1m barrels.
The BBPA said recent changes, such as the cut in beer duty announced in the Budget, would give the pub industry a much-needed shot in the arm.