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Surprise fall in UK on-trade summer sales

A sparkling summer has cast a shadow over the UK on-trade reveals the latest Wine and Spirits Trade Association market report.

The latest Wine and Spirit Trade Association market report has revealed that the long hot summer turned into a long dry drought for the UK on-trade with total alcohol sales falling by -6% over the latest 12 weeks.

In the off-trade, there was a minor summer boost with volume sales up +3% over the latest quarter thanks to an increase in sales of cider, beer and sparkling wine, however annual sales were down by -2%.   

While value sales in both the on- and off-trade were up +2% for the year, this is being driven by year-on-year duty increases. Alcohol duty increased on all alcohol products by 5.2% in the 2013 Budget, except on beer, swamping the +2% increase and squeezing both consumers and the trade.

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


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%.


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.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale comments: “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.  

“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.”


6 September 2013 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor