UK on-trade withers in summer heat

A long, hot summer did nothing to boost the UK on-trade’s fortunes, the sector's volume sales having shrunk 6% in the last 12 weeks, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

Following the results the UK trade body called for a withdrawal of the UK government's controversial alcohol duty escalator policy.

Miles Beale, WSTA chief executive, said: “Given the record hot summer, the fall in sales in the on trade is a surprise and underlines the need for an early end to the alcohol duty escalator to provide some relief for struggling pubs, bars and restaurants.”

The off-trade faired marginally better with consumption of beer, cider and sparkling wine driving a 3% increase in June, July and August but annual sales were at -2%.

Beale added: “While the hot weather provided a temporary and welcome boost for the off trade, on-going duty increases and squeezed consumer spending continue to damage the trade and WSTA member businesses."  

Value sales of +2% across both sectors paint a distorted picture, said the WSTA, as alcohol duty increased on all alcohol products, except for beer, by 5.2% in the UK’s 2013 Budget.

The WSTA Market Report draws on data and analysis from Nielsen, CGA Strategy and the Wilson Drinks Report.

Other findings were as follows:

Off trade

- Total volume sales were down -2% for the year but up +3% in the last 12 weeks.   

- Sparkling wine is the only category in volume growth over the short and long term, up +10% for the year and +12% in the latest 12 weeks.

- However, Champagne sales suffered the biggest category fall, down -13% in the short term and -4% over the year – a clear sign that consumers’ discretionary spending remains squeezed. 

- Cider and Perry sales enjoyed a ‘summer bounce’, up +12% for the year, although annual growth was flat.- While spirit sales remained unchanged over the past 12 weeks, sales of liqueur were up +12%.


On trade

 - Total volume sales were down -5% for the year and -6% in the short term.

- RTD sales fell by -3% over the year and by -24% in the latest 12 weeks.

- Volume sales of wine were up +1% in the short term but were flat over the year, while spirit sales were up +5% over the latest 12 weeks and up +1% for the year.

- Malt whisky was the biggest benefactor in spirit volumes up +45% in the short term.