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UK on-trade sales slip 3% in 12 months

While the UK’s off-trade saw a slight return to growth, sales at pubs, bars and restaurants fell by 3% in the last 12 months, according to the latest report by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

Miles Beale, Chief Executive, Wine and Spirit Trade Association (left) and David Frost, Chief Executive, Scotch Whisky Association (right) launch ‘Drop the Duty!’ campaign calling for a 2% cut in duty
Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA (left) and David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (right) launch their ‘Drop the Duty!’ campaign calling for a 2% cut in duty.

Off-trade annual sales increased by 1% in volume in the last 12 months, largely on the back of a 2% increase in beer sales and a 1% increase in spirits sales. However wine sales were down 3% with old world wines in particular said to have struggled.

Sparkling wine meanwhile continued its “remarkable growth” with sales up by 29% in the last 12 weeks and 17% for the year. Spirits were the strongest performing category with sales up 3% in the last 12 weeks, led by an 11% increase in liqueurs.

In the on-trade, sales of wine, spirits, and beer were all down with spirits sales dropping this quarter, by 5%. Vodka and whisk(e)y sales declined by 7%, however gin bucked the trend by achieving double digit volume and value growth.

Wine sales fell by 4% this quarter with sales from most of the top 10 countries in decline. France and New Zealand wines were the exception with both enjoying positive volume growth, however New Zealand wine was the standout country performer, up 16%. Sparkling wine sales were up 15% over the year, while Champagne sales were up 9% in the quarter and 4% over the year.

Miles Beale, WSTA chief executive, said: “The latest market report suggests it has been another mixed trading period for the sector. The fall in on-trade sales will be of concern for restaurants, bars and pubs – which are increasingly reliant on wine and spirit sales. If the Chancellor is serious about helping the hospitality sector, then the time has come to drop the duty, not just on beer again, but on wine and spirits too.”

The report follows the launch of the WSTA’s Drop the Duty campaign, in partnership with the Scotch Whisky Association and Tax Payers’ Alliance, which is calling for a 2% cut to duty on wine and spirits. Independent analysis by Ernst Young shows that a modest 2% cut in duty for wine and spirits would boost the public finances by £1.5bn. 

The WSTA’s market report is compiled using data from Nielsen and CGA Strategy.

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