British beer sales slump to a 20-year low

British beer sales have plummeted to a 20-year low after pubs and bars across the country were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised Brits to avoid going to the pub on March 16 following a spike in Covid-19 cases. Four days later, he ordered all on-trade establishments to close their doors indefinitely.

The British Beer & Pub Association has now revealed that Q1 beer volume sales decreased 7.2% year-on-year, reach their lowest point in the two decades.

That data only accounts for the three months to March 31, so the decline is likely to be a lot more pronounced for Q2. Pubs and bars are still closed, but beer gardens may be permitted to reopen from July 4.

The decline is Q1 was entirely attributed to the on-trade, which saw a 16.4% year-on-year decrease, reaching a record low of 668 million pints.

“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.”

The BBPA said bars and pubs require at least three weeks’ notice to give them sufficient time to prepare for a reopening. That means the government has just two days in which to confirm that they can welcome outdoor guests from July 4.

McClarkin said: “We are urging The Government to get Britain brewing again now and re-open our pubs from July 4.

“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 reopen safely. That means the Government must confirm by 13th June that pubs can definitely re-open on July 4th as indicated in their roadmap for unlocking the economy.

“Our pubs and breweries are desperately in need of this clarity. Beer sales were at a record low in the first quarter of this year, so it’s imperative we get brewing our beer again and re-open pubs as soon as possible. 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.”