The economic downturn has badly affected Irelands pubs

The economic downturn has badly affected Ireland's pubs

Ireland's on-trade is "in crisis", the country's drinks lobby has warned, after new figures showed sales in the channel have dropped by a third since the recession.

On-trade volumes declined by 8.2% in the first seven months of this year, according to figures from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), with sales volumes down 34% since pre-recession 2007. The spluttering domestic economy and continued pressure on discretionary income drove the decreases, DIGI said.

The trade body warned yesterday (3 September) that more jobs in the sector are likely to be lost and called on the Government to resist EU pressure to hike excise tax. “The pub sector is in crisis,” said Donall O’Keeffe, secretary of DIGI and CEO of the Licensed Vintners Association.

“The losses that are being experienced year-on-year, month-on-month, simply cannot be sustained. In the short- to medium-term there is absolutely no sign of market conditions improving for the on-trade. Rather, the likelihood is that current trends will continue forcing many publicans out of business and thousands of subsequent job losses.”

The European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Commission have all backed excise increases in Ireland's upcoming budget, but DIGI warned that the drinks sector cannot sustain them.

“(The increases) would further weaken the on-trade and independent off-trade in particular while also running contrary to efforts to boost tourism, consumer spending and supporting jobs,” said  DIGI chairman Kieran Tobin.

The latest data was compiled by Dublin City University Business School on behalf of DIGI.

It showed total consumption declined by 3.2% in the first seven months of this year, with decreases across beer, wine, spirits and cider.

Bar sales volumes declined 8.2% and bar sales value fell by 7.3% in the same period.

DIGI said bar volumes for July were 11.7% lower than a year prior, in stark contrast to recent overall retail figures for the month, excluding the motor trade, which showed a 1.1% increase.