The off-trade drove cautious growth in the beer sector with total sales at the end of Q1 up 1.5% year-on-year over the 12 –month period.

The moving annual figure showed a 3.8% hike in off-trade sales while the on-trade fell 0.8%.

The quarterly data showed Q1 sales 0.8% lower overall than the same period in Q1 with the on-trade falling 2.4% and off-trade rising 1.1%.

Since 2000 annual sales in the on-trade have fallen from 24.3 million barrels to 13.6 million while the off-trade has seen a rise from 11.2 million to 13.8 million.

The British Beer & Pub Association, which collated the figures, said the figures showed the need for continued support for beer and pubs.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “The market is still fragile as the industry continues to recover from the damaging beer duty escalator and UK beer duty rates remain among the highest in the EU.

“That is why we need the right tax policies so we can continue to boost jobs and create investment in an industry that employs 900,000 people and is worth £22 billion to our economy.”