Alcohol tax caused fall in restaurant wine and spirit sales

Research from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Eurostat has revealed that drinkers in Britain are paying 43 per cent more for alcohol than anywhere in Europe, except in Sweden, Ireland and Finland. This has inevitably led to the sales of wines and spirits in pubs falling, and industrial analysts have blamed all of this on the coalition's alcohol duty escalator.

The escalator, which was launched back in 2008, has caused 50 per cent and 44 per cent rises in wine and spirits respectively, meaning that volume sales of alcohol have fallen by three per cent in the last 12 months alone.

These figures come just a week after Wine and Spirit Association's (WSTA's) latest Market Report, which highlighted that volume sales of wine, beer and cider had all fallen in conjunction with price hikes across all sectors in the last quarter. On average, the monthly spend on alcohol for people in the UK was £41 in May. Even though this has not changed since February, it was down on the figures in November 2012.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “These figures show that British consumers are being squeezed much more than our European counterparts. At a time when cost of living increases are hitting families hard, the government needs to urgently reconsider its unpopular wine and spirits duty escalator.

“While there are a small number of categories in the wine and spirit sector with modest volume growth, the overwhelming picture is one of decreased sales and increased duty rates, with consumers inevitably having to foot the bill."

Mr Beale also added that tax will now account for 57 per cent and 79 per cent of the cost of a bottle of wine and vodka respectively. In a chain reaction, this will have caused prices to rise in pubs and bars, meaning that consumers are less inclined to go to their local. This may also hamper hospitality recruitment in the wider market.

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