Combined on and off-trade beer sales were down 1.7% in the first quarter of 2017, according to the latest data from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

Its Beer Barometer sales figures revealed that on-trade sales dropped 1.9% (-3.5% Q1 2017), while on-trade sales fell by 1.5% (+11.3% Q1 2017) - however this was on the back of a strong increase in on-trade sales seen in the same period last year. Total sales rose 3.4% in Q1 of 2017 – the first time a first quarter rise had been posted since 2004.

According to the BBPA, the decrease seen in Q2 2017 undoubtedly reflected the impact of the budget. With beer tax increases set in the public finances to rise with RPI there was a 3.9% increase in beer taxation in last year’s March Budget. It cost the industry £130 million and sales fell as a result. 

Commenting on the new data, Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive, said: “Beer sales experienced another fall at the beginning of the year and the industry will be hoping for better prospects this summer, especially as the FIFA World Cup will be a big draw to the pub.

“What’s still needed is a continued focus from the Government to reduce the tax burden on beer and pubs to ensure their success in the future.”