Beer sales rise after duty cuts
Beer sales have increased for the first time in a decade, but more booze is now sold in supermarkets and off-licences than in pubs for the first time on record.
There was a 1.3% rise in UK sales last year, driven by growth in supermarkets and off-licences, while beer sales in pubs fell by 0.8%, the smallest decline since 1996.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said the turnaround in beer sales followed the two cuts in beer duty announced in the last two Budgets.
The association said the two cuts of 1p each should be followed by a further reduction in the final Budget before the general election in March to give a further boost to the industry.
The 1.3% increase in sales last year followed nine years of decline, which saw beer sales slide by 24%.
The BBPA said under the "disastrous" beer tax escalator, which was abolished two years ago, duty including VAT increased from 42p to 65p on a typical pint, with an estimated 7,000 pubs closing and 58,000 jobs lost after the escalator was introduced in 2008.
BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds said: "British beer is back in growth - and we want to keep it that way. But with 70% of pub drink sales being beer, the picture for our much loved pubs is still fragile.
"That is why another duty cut from the Chancellor is vital. It will build on the success of two very popular tax cuts in the past two years, and boost jobs in an industry that employs 900,000 people, almost half of whom are 16-24 year olds."
A spokesman for the Campaign for Real Ale said: "It is fantastic to see overall beer sales back in growth for the first time in 10 years, but it is vitally important that beer sales in pubs move back into growth too.
"The 0.8% drop in pub beer sales is the smallest decline in sales since 1996, but if we want to see fewer pubs closing it is vital that number is pushed into positive growth.
"A third beer duty cut in next month's budget will help ensure that 2015 is the year when pub beer sales finally start growing again."