UK spirits sales overtakes beer for first time

The latest HMRC figures have revealed that sales of spirits have brought more money to the Treasury than beer for the first time in history.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association says that gin sales have surged 12%, the fastest growth rate of any spirit drink according to its latest market report, which has contributed to the spirits takeover.

WSTA CEO Miles Beale, said: “The WSTA dubbed 2016 the year of gin and the gin boom has had a large part to play in the windfall now being enjoyed by the Treasury."

The Treasury earned an extra £225m in revenue from spirit drinkers thanks to a freeze in spirits duty in the 2016 Budget, taking its total spirits duty to over £3.38bn, whilst beer duty was also frozen and led to a contribution of £3.32bn.

Beale added: “The 7% increase on revenue takings came as a result of the Chancellor freezing spirit duty in 2016 and allowing the industry to grow and invest.

“It proves the point that cutting or freezing spirits duty brings rewards, which is why the inflation busting rise in duty this year was such a disappointment and threatens the industry’s ability to invest, grow and export."

The WSTA also has concerns that the growth in sales of spirits and duty revenue could falter as spirit makers were given a 3.9% rise on alcohol duty in the March Budget, adding 30p per bottle.

The UK’s high duty rates means that UK consumers pay 25% of all spirits duties collected by EU member states and a staggering 76% of the average price of a bottle of gin is taken up in duty and VAT.

The UK pays more in alcohol duty than Germany, France, Poland, Italy and Spain combined.