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UK: Beer sales show Q3 rise on easy comparative

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UK beer sales have shown a rare increase in the third quarter of 2011, but are still down by 4% for the first nine months of the year, figures from the British Beer & Pub Association show.

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While on-trade beer sales continued to sink in the three months to the end of September, by 4.3%, an increase in supermarket sales helped overall volumes to rise by 1.6% for the quarter. It is only the second quarterly increase in beer volume sales in the UK in the past five years, according to British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) figures, published today (25 October).

The BBPA cautioned that the third-quarter increase came against a sharp fall in sales in the same quarter of 2010, as retailers struggled to offload excess supply left over from the FIFA World Cup. For the first nine months of 2011, meanwhile, beer sales fell by 4%.

"It is good to see some growth in the beer market overall," said the BBPA's CEO, Brigid Simmonds. "We are seeing some new pubs opening, with successful operators innovating, and broadening their offer to consumers."

But, she added: "There is no doubt that pubs continue to bear the brunt of Britain’s punitive tax policies on beer." Since March 2008, duty tax on beer has risen by a third in real terms. This means that beer duty in the UK amounts to 40% of beer taxes collected across the European Union, Simmonds said.

See below for a graph charting UK beer sales in the third quarter of every calendar year since 1997, when the BBPA began publishing records. 


Sectors: Beer & cider

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