Beer sales fall for eighth straight year, British Beer and Pub Association says

Beer sales have fallen for the eighth year in a row, with 381 million fewer pints being drunk in 2012, according to a new study.

A pint of bitter being pulled in an English pub

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said the figures showed how the Government’s  damaging” tax policy was hitting the pub trade.

The association has joined campaign groups in calling for a review of the beer duty escalator, introduced in 2008, which sees tax on beer increase by 2% above inflation each year.

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition in protest at the extra tax, urging the Chancellor to announce in the March Budget that it will be scrapped.

Pub beer sales slumped by 4.8% in the final quarter of 2012 compared with a year earlier, with total beer sales down by 4.7% over the year.

Around 138 million fewer pints of beer were drunk in the final quarter of 2012. Sales ofbeer in supermarkets and shops fell by 7.5% in the final three months of 2012 compared to the previous year, while sales in pubs, bars and restaurants were down by 4.8%.

Beer sales have fallen every year since 2005.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “These figures show that the Government needs to stop its full-on tax assault on our vital beer and pub industry.

“We’ve had tax hikes of 42% since March 2008, which is hugely damaging and completely unacceptable for such an important manufacturing sector.

“Instead, we could be protecting and creating jobs at a time when the country most needs it.”

Beer sales support around a million jobs and generate almost £8 billion in tax revenues, said the association.

Analysts have predicted that another rise in beer tax in the next Budget could lead to thousands of job losses in the industry.

A Treasury spokesman said: “Getting the deficit under control has meant tough choices. The Government recognises the value of the beer and pub industry, and the important contribution it makes to local communities and the wider economy.

“Although we have not made any changes to the alcohol duty plans we inherited from the previous Government, pubs are benefiting from action we’ve taken to support businesses, including a cut in employers’ national insurance contributions, the business rates holiday and reductions in corporation tax.”

Story by Press Association

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