On-trade alcohol sales fell 6% in 2013, largely due to a 7% fall in beer sales and mitigated by growth in sparkling wine, liqueurs and malt whisky, according to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association’s (WSTA) market report.

Wine sales fell by -2% for the year and remained flat over the final quarter, while spirit sales increased by 1% across the 12 months, dipping by 1% in the final 12 weeks of 2013.

The report which draws on data from Nielsen, CGA and other sources, said that sparkling wine, liqueurs and malt whisky all enjoyed double digit growth in volume sales. Malt whisky grew 20% for the year; however performance slowed to +7% over Q4.

Sparkling wine grew by +11% for the year and was up +16% in the latest 12 weeks, compared to a +2% increase over the year for Champagne, which fell 1% in the fourth quarter.

Liqueurs saw a +10% growth in sales for the year on the back of increased popularity in cocktails, the report says.

In the off-trade, wine sales fell 2% for the year and -3% in the latest 12 weeks, the fourth consecutive year that sales have fallen. Spirits sales fell 1% for the year.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “The Chancellor’s decision to scrap the alcohol duty escalator and freeze duty on spirits will be a welcome boost for consumers and the wine and spirits sector following years of above inflation price increases.

“Despite the tough trading conditions there is cause to be optimistic as categories such as sparkling wine and liqueurs continue to enjoy strong growth, and the move to premium products suggests that consumer confidence may be returning to the industry.”    

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