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UK beer sales up 1.1 billion pints in 2021 from previous year

Beer sales are set to return to pre-pandemic levels in the UK, with 4.6 billion litres of beer sold in 2021, up 13% from 2020, according to new research.

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An estimated 1.1 billion more pints were sold in 2021 than in 2020, new research by UHY Hacker Young has found.

Sales saw an increase of 13% in 2021 to 4.6 billion litres of beer sold compared to 4.1 billion in 2020.

According to the accountancy group, people drinking at home during the height of the pandemic replaced beer with wine or spirits, resulting in a 13% fall in the amount of beer sold in 2020.

The lack of on-trade caused beer sales to suffer, as consumers turned to other categories. But with pubs reopening and on-premise drinking increasing once again, beer sales have recovered to 98% of their pre-pandemic 2019 level.

James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young’s Nottingham office, commented: “The pandemic saw a sudden shift in people’s drinking habits, with a move away from beer. That seems to have been temporary – we are now seeing consumers flooding back to beer.”

He noted that 2021 saw a particularly good summer for beer, “with football’s European Championships providing a welcome sales boost for pubs”.

The study found that during lockdown, wine sales increased to 112m litres in 2020, up from 84m in 2019, while spirit sales increased to 10.9m litres from 7.4m over the same period.

However, both categories suffered as a result of the reopening of the on-trade. Wine saw a 3% reduction in sales equivalent to 5.2 million bottles in 2021 compared with 2020.

Spirits saw an even bigger drop of 12% during the same period, equivalent to 1.8 million bottles.

While overall beer sales may be on the up, sales of traditional cask beer are under threat due to a shift to online sales and at-home drinking, according to a new report by the Society of Independent Brewers. Read more on that here.

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