The leading UK trade association for breweries & pubs ascribed this fall entirely to pub and bars where sales were down 16.4% on Q1 2019 to a record low of 668 million pints.
The BBPA says that the new sales data show the immediate impact that the Covid-19 lockdown had on the beer and pub industry as pubs were ordered to close on Friday 20th March following warnings from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to avoid pubs as early as Monday 16th March.
The trade association has called on the Government to ‘Get Britain Brewing Again’ by giving the UK’s world class beer and pub sector a clear, definitive pathway to re-opening from 4th July as indicated in the Government’s roadmap for recovery.
The BBPA has pointed out that pubs will need a minimum of three weeks’ notice to allow them sufficient time to prepare for re-opening.
This includes sufficient warning to the UK’s 2,000 brewers who also need time to scale-up their operations to start re-supplying pubs with fresh beer.
Real ale, a style unique to the UK, takes around three weeks to brew while lager typically takes longer than ale.
It means that the Government had to have confirmed by 13th June, at the latest, that pubs will re-open from July 4th as has been indicated.
Failure by the Government to give enough clear notice of the July 4th re-opening date as definitive means some pubs may not have enough fresh draught beer.
“These stark figures reveal how the lockdown is having a devastating impact on our world class breweries and pubs,” said BBPA Chief Executive Emma McClarkin, “The cliff-edge impact on our sector, when people were told to stop going to the pub and then when they were shutdown, is clear to see.
“We are urging The Government to get Britain brewing again now and re-open our pubs from July 4th.
“To do this our sector needs at least three weeks’ notice so that our breweries can brew fresh beer and our pubs can get ready to re-open safely.
“This will help save pubs from permanent closure, allowing them to start to get back on their feet and protect the vital local jobs pubs and breweries support across the UK,” she concluded.
Breweries themselves have called on the British government for more clarity on the re-opening date for pubs, claiming they’ve been left in the dark, unsure of when to re-start brewing, considering it can take up to six weeks for lager to mature, for example.
And pubs themselves have yet to decide if they will open should the Social Distancing remain at two metres – all of which has led to upstream uncertainty about commencing brewing and brewing volumes on the part of the brewers for their customers.
Chief Executives of leading brewers and pub operators have today written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanding that he confirms by Friday 19th June exactly when all pubs will be able to reopen.
Otherwise, beer brewed now and unable to be dispensed should pubs not open on the 4th of July will go to join the 70 million pints wasted on UK pubs that had to close in March.