The brewing industry has spoken of its hope of a “speck of faint light” at the end of the tunnel as new figures were released showing the decline in beer sales appearing to slow.
Total beer sales fell 4.8 per cent in the second quarter of this year compared to an 8.3 per cent fall in the final quarter of 2008 and a 7.8 per cent drop in the first three months of this year, according to figures from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).
Pub sales of beer fell at a slower rate than in supermarkets, the figures showed, with beer sales in pubs down 4.5 per cent compared to the same period the year before.
Supermarkets and off-licence sales were down 5.2 per cent this quarter compared with the same quarter in 2008.
The BBPA, which represents the brewing and pub sector, estimated Government tax revenues from beer for the first half of the year would be down £156 million compared with the first six months of last year.
David Long, BBPA chief executive, said: “Whilst welcoming a slowing of the decline in beer sales, we are wary about reading too much into these early signs.
“However, the new figures give some ground for cautious optimism that some speck of faint light may be appearing at the end of the tunnel.
“Consumer spending on beer remains constrained in both pubs and supermarkets. Considerable economic uncertainty remains. We must therefore remain careful not to take too much from what are still disappointing figures.”