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Beer falls flat as sales plummet in Britain

With a British summer filled with excitement and sporting achievement, you could be forgiven for indulging in a beer to toast our successes.

However recent reports show that an incredible 117million fewer beers were drank than in the three months to September last year. What is alarming here is that with a summer consisting of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, coupled with the Euro 2012 Championships and occasional hot weather, it was thought that many people up and down the country would have taken time out to pay a visit to their local pub or purchase a beer or two from their nearest supermarket.

 

This view couldn’t have been more wrong according to these findings published by the BBPA.

But why is this?

I suppose the most obvious reason many will quote will be the extreme prices that are charged for a pint of beer, due, in part, to a rise in beer tax across the country. Since March 2008 beer has suffered a 42pc tax increase and is due to rise another 2pc above inflation next March. This is bad news for local businesses who will be under pressure to pass on this tax increase and risk losing customers as the cost of living continues to escalate whilst wages remain static.

Chief Executive BBPA is resolute that “If the Government wants to encourage growth, back British business and support local communities, it must end the Beer Duty escalator”. It is clear that the pressure on the Government to act is growing rapidly, with a petition signed by over 100,000 people enforcing the voice of local communities and businesses to see taxes changed on beer.

However, there are also opinions voiced throughout the media and pressure groups for the Government to hold firm with their beer tax policy. They believe that it isn’t possible to cut tax in this economic climate and that if they do, then the money will have to be found from another source. It is also believed that reducing beer tax could cause more strain on the NHS and local health services, costing more money in the long term. The debate is finely balanced at present but it remains the case that the next move made will be critical.

Whilst the Government are under pressure to clear Britain’s deficit, resulting in the rise in beer tax, perhaps they have inadvertently contributed to the fall in beer sales across the country with their advice to avoid cities such as London and areas where hubs of public transport exist during parts of the summer. This might help explain the falling sales of beer during this quarter. However there may also be a more uplifting reason influencing these results. With all the media coverage aimed at sports and fitness throughout the build up and events this summer,  these campaigns to get Britain fit may have influenced more people than initially thought, with people turning their backs on a beer in the evening and instead going to the gym, a run or joining sports clubs.

 

Factors such as the much fabled British summer also has to be taken into account when analysing these findings. With the media reporting that this UK summer had become the second wettest summer since records began, it’s not hard to see why people would want to escape for a week or two. But with the equivalent of 51m fewer pints of beer drunk when compared to this time in 2011, it is clear that whilst many social factors may influence the sales of beer, there is a wider problem that needs to be identified, whether that is indeed rising tax or the rising price of hops, and needs to be tackled to ensure local businesses and local pubs aren’t forced into a corner.

One thing is for certain. The next quarterly report will be awaited with anxiousness and anticipation by many as the future of the nation’s love affair with beer hangs in the balance.

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