There’s been a lot of discussion about this story reporting a shock 3.6% fall in pub beer sales compared with the same quarter last year. However, quarterly figures are inevitably subject to fluctuations, and in fact the previous quarter had only shown a fall of 0.2%.
The British Beer and Pub Association have now released the detailed figures behind these statistics – see the link on this page. The annual fall, which gives a more balanced picture, is 2.5%, which obviously is nothing to celebrate, but broadly in line with the average over the previous five years. Possibly the forthcoming Budget might have encouraged the BBPA to indulge in a little scaremongering. Of course beer duty should be frozen, if not cut, but there’s no sudden crisis.
In fact, the overall beer market has increased by 0.2% over the past twelve months, with the off-trade recording a 2.8% increase. It now accounts for 52.7% of all beer sales, so the tipping point when it exceeds the on-trade is long gone.
If you look at the quarterly falls in on-trade sales over time, by far the biggest was 10.3% between the second quarters of 2007 and 2008. I can’t for the life of me think what might have happened in the meantime to affect the figures to such an extent...