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British pint latest credit crunch victim

British pint latest credit crunch victim

The iconic British pint has become the latest victim of the global credit crunch, with total beer sales dropping around 7 percent in the third quarter of this year.
The British Beer and Pub Association said that 161 million fewer pints were sold between July and September compared with the same period last year _ a fall of 1.8 million pints a day.
Beer sales in pubs had already been in steady decline in recent years, leading to the closure of thousands of hostelries around the country.
But the association's Quarterly Beer Barometer reveals both a speeding up of that trend and that the downturn has now broadened to supermarket sales, which have until now held up as grocers attracted consumers with packs of beers at lower cost.
Supermarket and liquor store sales fell 6 percent over the quarter, slightly behind the 8.1 percent drop recorded for pubs, bars and restaurants.
"The accelerating decline in beer sales is a clear sign of a worsening economy, worried households and weakening spending," said Rob Hayward, the association's chief executive.
The association, whose members brew 98 percent of Britain's beer and include nearly two-thirds of the country's pubs, said that the problem was being exacerbated by increases in the government's alcohol tax, which brings in around US$180 million a year.
"This sales trend is symptomatic of the problems infecting the broader economy," said Hayward. "But any prudent diagnosis would also identify the specific impact of the budget's nine per cent beer tax increase and the constant stream of costly regulatory burdens flowing from the government's alcohol strategy. These policies are making a bad situation worse."
The government pulls in around 5.8 billion pounds ($9 billion) in duties and taxes on beer sales each year.
But the association warned that the falling sales will leave the Treasury facing a 1.2 billion pound ($1.8 billion) tax shortfall, in real terms, over the next three years, compared with their forecasts.
More than 1,400 pubs made their final "last calls" last year as a nationwide smoking ban and rising costs took their toll on beer sales, according to the Campaign for Real Ale, a consumer group promoting traditional pubs.
To take up the slack, pubs have been stepping up the food side of their business. Beer sales at Mitchells & Butlers, Britain's second-largest pub group, now account for just a quarter of all its revenue.
Some lawmakers fear the sliding pub sales will have another effect _ spurring pub owners to return to promotions that encourage binge drinking, such as selling cheap drinks until a team scores in a soccer match.
About half of the 57,000 pubs in Britain have ditched a voluntary ban on aggressive happy-hour deals and other promotions after the beer and pub association said it could violate European competition law.


Updated : 2021-04-17 05:04 GMT+08:00