After ten years of decline, the industry has finally announced that British beer sales are up. It may only be by 1.3% but at last, there is good news for an industry which has seen the closure of many public houses over the past few years.
The slide in sales of beer has been firmly placed at the feet of the politicians, where huge tax rises saw a beer duty increase from 2008 to 2013 of a whopping 42%. In layman terms, this led to 6.7 million fewer pints of the nectar sold on a daily basis.
These five years also saw the dearth of many a local pub: 7,000 pubs were forced to call time. However, although off-trade sales have fared better than trade sales, with a growth of 3.5%, beer sales in pubs have started to stabilise, with the smallest decline since 1996 of just 0.8 per cent in 2014.
Back in Growth
The industry is calling for duty cuts from the Chancellor in the next budget, which is strongly believed to be the answer to bring back the great British pub era, as 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.
At the end of 2011 around 12 to 14 pubs were closing every week. And still today, those establishments that are predominantly ‘wet-led’ (drinks are the main source of revenue) are at most risk.
What can be done to help the industry? An area of strength is perceived generally as dry-led (food-led) sales, with pubs adapting to the social trend of large, value-for-money meals in a family friendly environment.
This is borne out by consumer research commissioned from NEMS Market Research by Key Note, which showed that in 2012, for 54% of UK adults, eating a meal is their main reason for visiting a pub. This is a trend that is still current and pubs, if they haven’t already done so, should consider using their kitchens for profit.
We cannot predict the budget, although many believe that the only way forward for the beer and pub industry is to cut the accelerated rate of above-inflation tax rises (Britons pay 40 per cent of all EU beer duties, but drink just 12 per cent of the beer).
In the meantime, in order to survive, then install a reputable oven such as those from Rational, and take advice from our expertise in installing and servicing this market sector. The pub sector must continue to diversify and consolidate its offerings to this sector as the growth is coming from food and drink; not drink alone.