Monday, 29 April 2013

5% down

Today the British Beer and Pub Association released their latest Quarterly Beer Barometer statistics. To be honest, the figures weren’t that different from the previous ones, with an overall year-on-year fall in beer volumes of 5.1% being recorded, as against 4.7% last quarter. So much for the anti-drink lobby constantly bleating about Britain’s ever-growing drink problem.

The fall for the on-trade was in fact slightly less than that for the off-trade, which tends to be more price-sensitive. The previous trend of a steady move from on- to off-trade consumption very much seems to have stalled recently, and it will be interesting to see whether this continues to be reflected in future figures. Another question mark is whether the beer duty cut in the Budget will filter through in to healthier sales figures (or at least a reduction in the rate of decline) in the remainder of the year.


  1. "So much for the anti-drink lobby constantly bleating about Britain’s ever-growing drink problem."

    They're happy to lie, such as "alcohol-fuelled mayhem in our town centres" - funny how I never see it, and I'm out every weekend.

  2. This is what the link says:

    "UK beer sales fell 2.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, according to the British Beer & Pub Association’s quarterly Beer Barometer, published today. The loss in sales of this iconic British product took place in the pub sector, which was down 5.5 per cent.

    Off trade sales were more stable, rising 0.1 per cent compared with the first quarter in 2012."

    Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but that seems to me to say that the off trade sector is up 0.1, the pub trade sector is down 5.5, and overall trade is down 2.9 (which is about halfway between 0.1 and -5.5, so would make sense). The spreadsheet seems to confirm this interpretation.

    But you seem to be saying the opposite Mudgie?

  3. @py0: The press release refers to quarter-on-quarter figures, which can be misleading due to seasonal fluctuations.

    The year-on-year movements (the second tab in the spreadsheet) give a more meaningful picture.

  4. Have you extrapolated these stats of decline and worked out the year the last ever beer, Fosters, becomes a shed brewed crafted product?

  5. quarter on quarter figures are compared to the same quarter last year, hence should be exempt from seasonal fluctuations.

  6. @py0: Let's try to rephrase that. Individual quarterly figures are subject to various one-off blips and fluctuations caused by, for example, the weather, the timing of Easter, and whether England are playing in an international football tournament. Therefore the smoothing effect produced by comparing year-on-year figures gives a better indication of the overall trend.

  7. Lads, instead of arguing over arithmetic why don't we just all celebrate and toast (with a fruit juice) this positive development for public health. Responsible pubs are doing there bit by pricing customers out of health damaging habits at the expense of their survival and ought be applauded for the self sacrifice. Anyone for a chocca mocha at Starbucks?

  8. The most price elastic consumers are probably the low to moderate drinkers, and reducing their intake even further won't benefit their health whatsoever.

    Suggesting to our obese and diabetic nation that they should celebrate with a sugar packed and calorie rich chocca mocha from Starbucks on the other hand...

    I don't see why the year on year figures are any more reliable really Mudgie, you just see the effects of a wider range of fluctuations. We're just seeing the remains of the effects of the miserable summer on off-trade beer sales. The off-trade the still sold more beer in the first quarter of this year than any previous first quarter on record except one.

  9. An observation. py0 seems out to be the beery equivalent of vexatious litigant. Is there anything he won't disagree with?

  10. It would be a bit dull if I just went round saying "I agree", "I agree", wouldn't it though?

  11. @Pyo it is important that as many people as possible tell Mudge he is talking crap, as often as possible. It keeps him grounded in reality and stops him going off into flights of fantasy about smoking bans. Keep it up.

  12. No-one said he's talking crap now Cookie. If I thought he was talking crap I wouldn't read his blog.

  13. You are being gently ribbed, PYO, and are rising to the bait each time. It sometimes happens to me, especially when someone wants to go Leftie bashing. All part of the fun.

  14. Wrt the constantly decreasing beer figures, I think the truth of the matter is that as mainstream beer quality has decreased over the decades, sales had to eventually follow.

    Popularity of lager in particular was being artificially propped up through the 90s and 2000s by a masculine image, and what with youngsters being more and more open-minded it was only a matter of time before that edifice crumbled. In a matter of ten years since I was an undergraduate, the % of young men drinking lager in your average group in a student bar has visibly dropped from ~90% to ~25%.

    Nowadays a LOT of youngsters just drink cider and mixed drinks and never really bother to get the taste for beer at all, and honestly if you see the range of beers offered in your average student bar you can't really blame them.

    The mainstream beer industry though its continued greed and corner cutting has basically killed the golden goose.

  15. I wouldn't say that in general the selection of beers in pubs and bars was worse than it was ten or fifteen years ago - indeed there's an argument it's generally both wider and better.

    Whether fashion-driven drinkers have abandoned the lager category is another issue, of course.

  16. Well I wouldn't really know what it was like before the mid 90s, all I can tell you is that in my drinking lifetime its been almost universally awful and, truth be told, most people only drank lager because it genuinely seemed like the only option. Everything else was both significantly more expensive and would be met with barely disguised disdain by your mates.

    If you had asked me 12 years ago what was the nicest beer on the market, I would have said Carling Premium and probably believed it too.

    Beer quality and variety is better in specialist beer/ real ale type places, but you have to like beer in the first place to go into such places. On the front line: the walkabouts, the yates, the student uni bars, its as bad as ever.


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