Today the BBPA have published their latest Quarterly Beer Barometer figures. While their press release concentrates on the quarterly figures, showing an overall 4.8% decline in beer volumes, these were somewhat distorted by an untypical rebound in the third quarter of last year. In reality, the annualised figures are a better guide, showing an overall 3.2% decline, split between 3.6% in the on-trade, and 2.8% in the off-trade.
This is representative of a long, steady decline rather than a catastrophic fall, and is much better than the 5% plus falls recorded in 2008 and 2009, but even so it must be remembered that a 3.2% annual drop will halve overall volumes in fifteen years. On-trade sales are 26% below 2007, and 37% below 2002, so it’s hardly surprising that so many pubs have closed. The off-trade is now 94% of the on-trade, so the inevitable tipping point can’t be too far away.
Despite the negative impact on jobs, and on VAT and duty receipts, it remains a racing certainty that the government will ignore all the petitioning and campaigning and continue to apply the duty escalator in the next budget. Or, as minimum pricing seems to have been kicked back until at least 2014, they may even ratchet it up a bit more.