Wine and spirits sales are becoming increasingly important to the on-trade and now account for almost half of the value of all drinks sales in new openings, exclusive figures have revealed.

Data produced for the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) by CGA Strategy show that the sales mix in new pub and restaurant openings in the two-year period from 2012 to 2014 was 49.1% wine and spirits — up from 44.1% in the previous two-year period.

The analysis showed that the increase had come from stealing share from the beer and cider categories. Beer and cider accounted for 38.4% of value sales in premises opening in 2010-2012, but had fallen to 33.4% of sales between 2012-2014.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said the data confirmed the importance of wine and spirits to the UK pubs industry. The trend is supported by recent WSTA polling, which found 60% of UK adults choose to drink wine, making it the most popular alcoholic drink.

“It makes clear business sense for pubs to respond to the growing popularity and importance of wine and spirits in attracting customers to new pubs and other on-trade venues,” he said. The WSTA is presenting the figures to treasury officials this week in order to strengthen its calls for a 2% cut in alcohol duty in next month’s Budget. Under the current Government, tax on wine has increased by 28% and on spirits by 25%. Duty on spirits was last cut in 1996 and on wine in 1984. “A cut in duty would allow UK consumers to enjoy their favourite drinks at a fairer price and also allow pubs, which are increasingly driven by sales of wine and spirits, to thrive,” Beale added.

The WSTA is calling on PMA readers to support its Drop the Duty! campaign by emailing their local MP. Visit