Recession has hastened a sharp decline in sales at many of Ireland's pubs, bars and restaurants, according to new research, as industry leaders renew their call for a 20% cut in duty tax on alcoholic drinks.

More than two thirds of 748 premises surveyed reported a fall in sales in over the last five years, according to the report, published by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (Digi) today (2 November).

"The overall picture is one of a sector suffering a period of sharp decline," said Digi chairman Kieran Tobin.
 
Digi is using the report to up the pressure on ministers to cut duty tax on drinks.

Tobin said: "The Survey of Licensed Premises 2009 details trends in the on-trade from the height of the Boom to the present day, when the entire drinks industry is in virtual freefall. In 2004 we began to see a slowdown in sales and revenue in pubs, hotels, nightclubs, and restaurants, but the scale of the decline has accelerated sharply in the last 18 months."

Digi is calling for 20% cut in excise duty on alcohol in the Irish Government's 2010 Budget, set to be published this month.

Tobin said: "In advance of Budget 2010, Digi is calling on the Government to recognise the contribution of an industry that employs over 85,000 people throughout all sectors (manufacturing, distribution, and sales in the on- and off-trades) and provides over EUR2bn (US$2.95bn) in excise and value added tax and EUR1.2bn in export revenues."

Ministers have warned that the 2010 Budget will have to be one of the toughest in recent memory if Ireland, one of the worst-hit EU countries in the economic downturn, is to rebalance public finances.

For a cull copy of the on-trade study, conducted by Amarach Research on behalf of Digi, click here.