Supermarket beer sales top pub sales for the first time

For the first time since records began, pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels sold less beer than supermarkets and off-licences last year.

With the balance of power steadily shifting for a while, last year finally saw the tipping point - 51 per cent of all beer was sold in supermarkets and off-licences.

To highlight the nature of the decline, almost 70 per cent of beer was drunk in pubs and other on-trade venues in 2000, while back in 1990 the figure was almost 80 per cent.

This means that the industry has seen a 44 per cent drop in sales in the last four decades.

Paying the price?

Part of the issue, many argue, is the ever-growing price of beer in pubs, bars and clubs. The average price of draught lager has soared by 38 per cent in the last decade, with the average pint costing between £2.40 and £4.70.

Bitter, meanwhile, has also jumped in price, with the average cost of a pint between £2.05 and £3.90, according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

This is in stark contrast to off-licences, and the rock-bottom prices found at large chain supermarkets.

Purchasing from the larger stores can work out as cheap as £1 a pint, with 18-can deals now a staple of the booze aisle.

And supermarkets are even invading their neighbours’ turf - Tesco opened a pop-up wine bar in Soho in August, offering a selection of its Finest wines.

Is a cut to beer duty the solution?

One solution to redress the balance could be to cut beer tax. It was one of the surprise announcements in the 2013 Budget, an attempt to boost the struggling pub industry.

And the move could be made again with the number of pubs in Britain in rapid decline. Just over 50,000 public houses opened their doors last year, almost 8,000 less than the previous decade.

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