Published: 13:09, 29 April 2009
Kent’s pubs and off-licences are feeling the strain of falling beer sales.
The county's pubs are seeing a drop-off and off-licences are suffering a marked downturn.
The news comes as figures issued on Tuesday by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) show off-licence sales of beer have plummeted by 11 per cent nationally in the last year.
Beer sales in pubs, too, have fallen by eight per cent over the last 12 months.
David Banks, who owns the small Fairview Off-licence in Gillingham, noticed the downturn in sales over the past months.
“Since Christmas, it has only got worse. Sales have been badly affected by the recession, as well as by supermarkets’ promotions.”
Kerry Burton, manager of The Carpenters Arms in Rochester, said he “most definitely” noticed the plummeting sales over the last few months.
In fact, the fall in sales felt worse than an eight per cent loss.
“People are just not coming out anymore, and their drinking patterns seem to have changed”.
Neil Williams, from the BBPA’s Southern England group, said: “The relentless rise in the sales of off-trade alcohol, particularly beer, seems to have stopped at the moment”.
Trading conditions were “very, very difficult” because of adverse factors, especially rising beer taxes and the credit crunch.
Mr Williams called for the Government to stop increasing alcohol duties, and said increasing red tape was also an issue.
But despite falling sales and customers moving towards drinks other than beer, there is still a silver lining for pubs and off-licences.
“Beer still remains our favourite drink. If we can get to grips with some of the problems, we should be able to keep the pub right at the heart of local communities, as it has been for centuries,”said Mr Williams.
More by this authorKentOnline reporter