Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Raise a pint to celebrate

There was good news for the British brewing industry in the beer sales figures for 2018 released yesterday by the British Beer & Pub Association. The detailed tables can be downloaded here. These showed that, over the full year, there had been an overall rise in beer sales of 2.6%, the largest single increase in the 21 years covered by this statistical series. This was made up of a 4.7% rise in off-trade sales, and a 0.1% rise in the on-trade.

This has been widely attributed to England’s lengthy run in the World Cup, but in fact looking at the detailed figures they don’t show a dramatic peak. On-trade sales rose by 0.9% in the third quarter, but 2.2% in the fourth, while off-trade sales were up by 7.7% in the second and 7.6% in the third. The prolonged spell of hot weather in June and July probably had more of an impact.

Inevitably there were a few sour grapes complaining that this represented a further erosion of the market share of the on-trade vis-a-vis the off-trade. The on-trade accounted for 45.8% of the total, compared with 50.7% five years ago and 71.5% in 1997. But, as I have commented over the years, this is a long-term trend caused by a wide variety of social and legislative factors, and isn’t going to be reversed unless society as a whole changes. The absolute rise in on-trade sales is the only increase over the entire 21-year period, and surely it should be cause for celebration that the brewing industry in total seems to be in rude health.

However, no doubt this news will be met with gnashing of teeth from the anti-drink lobby, so expect renewed calls for the revival of the alcohol duty escalator.


  1. The term you are looking for to explain this is a dead cat bounce.


  2. Total UK volume has been pretty much stagnant at around 27m barrels per annum 2012 which means the steady decline seems to have come to an end and the industry isn't in freefall, rather than 'rude health', although not to be sniffed at given the constant attacks on the trade. A few more years of modest growth and I'll go with rude health.

  3. Pubs and the bitter is saved. A golden new era begins.

  4. The Stafford Mudgie13 February 2019 at 09:56

    "A 0.1% rise in the on-trade" during the year that had Beer and Pubs Forum members going on more Proper Days Out than ever before.

  5. Now pubs are saved, when's CAMRA disbanding?

    1. But there is still the fight against beer sexism to be won.

  6. A nice summer ensures pub beer gardens are tolerable for smokers for at least part of the year. Imagine if pubs were tolerable environments all year?

  7. Good news ���� long may it continue
    Britain Beermat


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