British sales and consumption of alcoholic beverages continue to grow, bucking trends in Germany and France, says a new report from Mintel. However, per capita, Germans still drank more than the British. According to data from the industry intelligence firm’s study Drinking Habits in Europe, the alcoholic beverage market in Britain increased in value by 15% in the period 1999-2004. And while UK sales climbed 5% over the same period, in Germany there was a fall of 8%, and similarly, in France, a drop of 6%. In addition, Mintel expects the UK market to continue to grow, and those of France and Germany to continue to shrink for the foreseeable future. Several factors were responsible for the strength of the domestic market. There was a sharp rise in the number of women drinkers, with whom wine is popular. The report explained: "Sales of wine in the UK are now larger than sales of spirits and the market has been driven by rising incomes, more ‘aspirational’ drinking habits a trend towards home entertaining and by a massive promotional push." Meanwhile, in France, water is beginning to supplant wine’s place as a mealtime drink, especially among the under 25s. Wine sales there consequently fell by 4% over the period of the study. Meanwhile, although beer still accounts for the 80% of the German alcoholic beverage market, sales were down there by 10% over the period. Beer sales also slipped in France by the same figure. In the UK beer sales remained roughly static, the report stated.