UK beer sales rose 1.3% in 2014, bringing an end to nine consecutive years of decline, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) announced this week.
The 1.3% rise in 2014 followed a decade of decline, which saw beer sales slide by an astonishing 24% – 6.7 million fewer pints sold, per day. The news follows two historic cuts in beer duty by the Chancellor.
The BBPA says that huge tax rises were the major culprit, with a devastating beer duty hike of 42% from 2008 to 2013, under the disastrous beer tax ‘escalator’ policy. This sent the duty (plus the VAT on the duty) from 42p, to 65p on a typical pint. The period saw 7,000 pubs close, with 58,000 jobs lost.
With taxes still much higher than they were a decade ago, the BBPA is leading calls for a much-needed hat-trick of beer duty cuts in the Budget on 18th March.
Beer sales in pubs have begun to stabilise, showing a small decline of 0.8% in 2014, but this was the smallest decline in sales since 1996. Off-trade sales grew by 3.5%, matching the growth of last year, and taking off-licence and supermarket sales above on-trade sales, for the first time on record.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds comments: “British beer is back in growth – and we want to keep it that way. But with seventy per cent of pub drink sales being beer, the picture for our much loved pubs is still fragile.
“That is why another duty cut from the Chancellor is vital. It will build on the success of two very popular tax cuts in the past two years, and boost jobs in an industry that employs 900,000 people, almost half of whom are 16-24 year olds. That has got to be good news.”