The UK on-trade saw a slight slowdown in its decline last year

The UK on-trade saw a slight slowdown in its decline last year

Total UK beer volumes last year came in flat after seven years of steady decline, according to latest figures.

Sales across the on- and off-trade in the 12 months to the end of December fell by 0.4% year-on-year to 27.1m barrels, figures published yesterday (27 January) by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) showed. Total volume sales have fallen above 1% annually since 2005, with the steepest decline in 2008. 

However, the UK on-trade continued to suffer in 2013, with volumes down 3.6% to 13.8m barrels. The off-trade bounced back with volumes up 3.2% after a 4.7% drop in 2012. 

In Q4, total sales rose 0.8% to 7.4m barrels, following a 5.2% lift in Q3. The BBPA said this was the first rise in two consecutive quarters for ten years, which it attributed to the UK Government cutting beer duty and abandoning the duty escalator on the category last March.  

Brigid Simmonds, the BBPA's chief executive, said: “We hope the Chancellor takes note and freezes beer duty in his next Budget to give a further boost to British beer and pubs.”

Last month, the Wine & Spirit Trade Association launched a campaign to persuade UK Chancellor George Osborne to scrap the escalator, which means at least a 2% duty increase above inflation, on wine and spirits producers. 

The UK 2014 Budget speech will be made on 19 March.