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CGA: Brits are spending more but drinking less

Data and research consultancy CGA has revealed a decline in volume drinks sales in Britain, as consumers increasingly spend more on booze and are more adventurous in their choices.

CGA’s Alcohol Sales Tracker has found that the total value of the ‘out-of-home alcoholic drinks market’ in Britain has reached £24.6 billion in the year to mid-June, an increase of 0.6% on last year. However, this increase is noteworthy given that volume sales declined by 2.6% in the same period.

British consumers are therefore drinking less but spending more when they do drink. According to the CGA, the results from London most exemplified this trend.


The research has shown that UK punters are increasingly favouring upmarket bars and managed pubs, especially locations in which they can have a meal as well as a drink. According to the CGA, 35% of the out-of-home drinking market is classified as ‘premium’ yet these sites represent 47% of value sales and are increasing their market share year-on-year. 60% of the growth in sales value recorded was achieved in ‘food-led’ pubs.

Managed pubs are also exhibiting positive sales growth, increasing by 2.8% in the year to mid-June.

Source: CGA

In terms of drinks categories, cider is performing particularly well with a sales value growth of 2%, driven, according to the CGA, by “the warm spring and early summer weather, powerful brand marketing and the rising popularity of artisan producers”.


The CGA has stated that there has been a notable drop in alcohol sales in leased and tenanted pubs as well as “only marginal growth among independent operators”. These venues are losing out to premium bars and managed pubs.

In contrast to cider’s success, according to the CGA, sales growth in spirits has halved in the past year.

CGA chief executive Phil Tate said: “Our figures reveal the increasing complexity and sophistication of Britain’s out-of-home drinks market. The small fall in volume sales rebuts the much-publicised idea that levels of unhealthy drinking are soaring, suggesting instead that consumers are continuing to demand better quality when they choose to drink out.”

“While we are still seeing value growth it is no surprise we have seen a small decline in this figure. Market conditions at the end of H1 2017 are different to conditions at the end of 2016. We’ve had the referendum, two major terror attacks and a snap election. The fact that there is still growth shows how resilient consumers are, how customer-centric the market remains.”

Tate added: “Brands that can supply their customers with the right range, atmosphere and experience, and establish clear points of difference from the mainstream, will be best placed to thrive in the years ahead. Staying on top of drinks trends via the Alcohol Sales Tracker and CGA’s other research services will be paramount in achieving that”.

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