Irish drinkers continued a trend to buy alcohol for home consumption

Irish drinkers continued a trend to buy alcohol for home consumption

Ireland's drinks market stayed flat last year as a jump in off-trade sales offset more bad news for bars, a new report shows.

Total volumes increased by 0.17% in 2011, with per capita consumption decreasing by 0.14% to 11.7 litres a year, according to Drinks Market Performance 2011, released today (26 April). Off-trade sales volumes increased by 5% as consumers continued to purchase alcohol to drink at home, the report said. Off-sales account for almost 60% of all alcohol consumed in Ireland, according to the report.

The on-trade's woes continued in Ireland as sales volumes dropped by 5.5% and the value of sales declined 7.2%. The report says that the Irish on-trade is at 70% of its 2007 level.

Last year's decline was less marked than in 2010, when bar sales volumes dropped by 10.4%, and in 2009, when it fell by 10%

About 5,000 bar jobs have been lost in Ireland in the past two years, the report notes.

“The situation remains fragile with pubs, bars, nightclubs, hotels, restaurants and independent off-licences continuing to close as a result of consumers not spending,” said Kieran Tobin, chairman of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), which commisioned the report. “This has obvious consequences for the 62,000 jobs across the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol, as well as for businesses and communities throughout Ireland.”

Tobin called for the Irish government to maintain measures including the 20% reduction in alcohol excise implemented in 2009 and last year's reduction in VAT on tourism related activities.

The report says that off-trade prices decreased by 2% in 2011 but warned that the figure might not be accurate due to data-collecting issues.