Christmas sales in sparkling wine leave Treasury feeling bubbly
A record-breaking volume of sparkling wine was sold in UK shops and supermarkets at Christmas with over 40 million bottles flying off the shelves.
The end-of-year sparkling wine sales show stores made £270 million in the three-month run-up to Christmas, up 10% on the same period in 2015, according to the latest market report from the Wine And Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).
A further five million bottles were sold in pubs, bars and restaurants during the 12 weeks to December 31 2016, worth £127 million, up 37% on last year.
The combined on and off trade sales of sparkling wine was over 45 million bottles, up 54% in five years, when during the same period in 2012 sales reached short of 21 million bottles, the WSTA said.
In total, sparkling wine (not including champagne) sold 995,000 hectolitres, the equivalent of 132 million bottles, in shops, bars and restaurants during 2016, worth over £1.2 billion.
The sales of sparkling wine means the Chancellor received a tax windfall of around £468 million last year, the WSTA said.
If duty paid on champagne is added, this takes the amount paid into the Treasury to over half a billion at £550 million.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine And Spirit Trade Association, said: "The UK saw the largest ever quarterly sales of sparkling wine at the end of last year but with price rises looming we need government support to ensure that the bubble doesn't burst when it comes to the British drinkers' love for fizz.
"Wine is now the nation's most popular alcoholic drink and it is vital that government backs the British wine trade which generates £17.3bn in economic activity.
"We are calling on the Chancellor to cut wine and spirit duty by 2% at the Budget on Wednesday.
"This would benefit our industry, the consumer and boost Treasury coffers, just as it did two years ago."
The sparkling wine category includes Prosecco, Cava and English sparkling wine and attracts 28% higher duty than still wine, the WSTA said.