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One in five consumers failed to visit a pub in the last 12 months, research shows

Pub visits have fallen sharply over the last year, despite pandemic recovery well underway, a new report from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has revealed.

One in five consumers failed to visit a pub in the last 12 months, research shows

Broadening routes to market for independently-made beer is essential for brewery survival, SIBA’s Craft Beer Report 2023 has revealed, as more than 20% of all consumers failed to visit a pub in the last 12 months.

The report also found a significant fall in the overall number of consumers ever drinking beer, particularly among women.

Independent brewers were hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, with pubs — a key route to market — closed for large swathes of time. SIBA member breweries saw average production recover further in 2022, after the devastating impact of the pandemic in 2020. However, production still remains 11% lower than 2019 levels.

Andy Slee, SIBA Chief Executive, commented: “Beer sales are still well short of pre-pandemic levels, thanks to the stuttering recovery of the Nation’s pubs and the pressures on people’s spending from the cost of living crisis,” Andy added.

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Inflation and the cost-of-living crisis have exacerbated issues for the independent brewery sector. Brewers were only able to increase their prices by 2%, which represents a real term fall considering double digit inflation.

However, the sector is shifting to keep up with a changing consumer climate. Direct to consumer sales in pubs, bars, via websites or taprooms, is the most profitable route for most brewers. These sales are seeing the fastest growth with over a quarter of all output now sold through these channels.

“Our members sales footprint has transformed over recent years as brewers look to meet the growing local demand for quality independent craft beer. Over a quarter of independent brewer sales are now direct to consumers, with over 40% now running their own bar or taproom as well as seeing an increased trend in online sales,” said Slee.

Two-thirds of SIBA brewers are planning to grow this year, according to the report — a promising sign for the future of the industry.

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