Latest figures from AC Nielson, the drinks market analyst, show that beer volumes in UK pubs and bars are running at -9% for the first five months of the year. The long drinks category, which also includes ciders and stout is currently down 8% versus the first five months of 2007. Soft drinks have also suffered, down 7%, due to a lack of footfall and a subsequent lack of people ordering mixers with alcohol. The spirits category in 2008 – to the end of May – was down 5% while wine was down 3%, with growth in rose offsetting declines in other wine segments. Nielson’s Graham Page told M&C Report: “There should be some improvement as we move into comparisons against June, July and August of last year, which were pretty torrid for the UK on trade.” Page reiterated the “perfect storm” analogy that has faced the pub business as a range of factors such as the credit crunch, consumer downturn, smoking ban, poor weather and deep off-trade discounting has impacted pub visits. Of the sharp drop in beer volumes, Page said: “We are seeing beer figures that have not been experienced since the 1930s. I have been in the industry for 40 years and haven’t seen numbers like these.” Beer volume declines have eased in the three months from March. Volumes are thought to have fallen 11.7% in March, 10.2% in April and 7.0% in May.