But despite the increase, sales in Britain’s pubs and bars still fell by 2.4%, the biggest drop since 2013 according to the British Beer & Pub Association there.
This equates to nearly 88 million fewer pints sold in pubs than in the previous year. The drying up of on-trade demand for beer is due to a combination of factors, states the BB&PA, including a 3.9% duty increase in March, higher operating costs for pubs (including business rates increases) and sharply rising employment costs, as well as fragile consumer confidence.
Beer sales have been largely stable over the past three years after several years of sharp decline. This trend has been greatly helped by three one penny cuts in beer duty from 2013 to 2015 and a duty freeze in 2016.
Prior to 2013, there was a slump of 14% in sales under the controversial beer duty escalator there, when a cumulative tax hike of 42% from 2008 to 2013 was accompanied by 58,000 job losses and 7,000 pub closures.
“Whilst it’s encouraging to see beer sales rise slightly in 2017, it’s still hugely concerning to see on-trade sales fall for the 17th year in a row,” commented BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds, “This shows just how important the decision to freeze beer duty in the Autumn Budget was, particularly after an inflation-busting 3.9% rise in the Spring Budget. Cutting beer duty is hugely important to community pubs where on average 70% of alcohol sold is beer.
“The Autumn Budget helped safeguard jobs, pubs and investment in a very British manufacturing industry and it’s essential that the Government continues to support beer and pubs throughout 2018. Further support on duty and tackling the disproportionate rates bill paid by pubs remain top priorities for us.”