Beer the big loser in 2009 - ONS stats

Beer the big loser in 2009 - ONS stats

Consumers in the UK spent 5% less on alcoholic drinks in 2009, according to official figures that back up industry reports of households trading down in the recession.

Household spend on alcohol fell to GBP37.4bn (US$56.3bn) for the 12 months of 2009, down from GBP39.4n in 2008, according to a database released by the Office of National Statistics yesterday (30 March).

Retail spend fell by 6.6% to GBP12.8bn, with restaurants, bars and hotels reporting a 4.2% drop to GBP24.57bn.

The figures provide more evidence of UK consumers trading down to cheaper drinks in the recession, as reported by several major drinks firms.

The fall will also heighten concern around the Government's duty tax rises on alcohol.

Chancellor Alistair Darling raised tax on beer, wine and spirits by 2% above inflation last week, meaning that, in real terms, tax has jumped 25% on beer and wine and by 20% on spirits inside two years.

Previous to last year's decline, total alcohol spend also fell 4% in 2008, to GBP39.4bn. Spend was GBP41.8bn in 2005.

Beer suffered the biggest drop in spend in 2009, appearing to fare worst in turbulent period for the pub trade.

On-trade beer sales fell by 16% to GBP11.5bn and by 7% in the off-trade, to GBP3.2bn. Total beer sales fell by 14.5%, to GBP14.8bn from GBP17.3bn a year earlier.

That compares to a 6% rise in total wine spend, to GBP15.1bn, as growth in restaurant sales offset a near-8% drop at retail.

Spirits sales fell by 4.4% to GBP7.5bn, reflecting identical rates of decline in both the off-trade and on-trade.