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UK spirits sales slip in 2013, figures reveal

Spirits sales dropped 1% in the UK off-trade during 2013, but imported whiskey bucked the trend with a “strong performance”, new figures reveal.

New figures released by the WSTA reveal that spirits sales reduced 1% in the UK’s off-trade in 2013

Announcing its annual market report, the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) noted that the drop in off-trade spirits sales was partly offset by a 1% increase in on-trade sales.

Imported Irish and American whiskey performed particularly well in UK retail outlets, increasingly 9% – a rise attributed to a “promotional focus” over the Christmas period.

Meanwhile, liqueurs enjoyed 10% growth in the UK’s on-trade thanks to a thriving cocktail culture.

Overall, the WSTA claimed that prices continued to increase at a higher rate than volume sales across most wine and spirits categories in 2013.

This discrepancy was seen largely as a result of higher duty rates, as well as a consumer shift towards higher priced premium products.

According to the WSTA, these figures highlight another tough trading period for the wine and spirit sector and validate Chancellor George Osborne’s recent decision to scrap the alcohol duty escalator in the recent Budget.

Miles Beale, WSTA chief executive said: “The Chancellor’s decision to scrap the alcohol duty escalator and freeze duty on spirits will be a welcome boost for consumers and the wine and spirits sector following years of above inflation price increases.

“Despite the tough trading conditions there is cause to be optimistic as categories such as sparkling wine and liqueurs continue to enjoy strong growth, and the move to premium products suggests that consumer confidence may be returning to the industry.”

The WSTA’s market report draws on data from independent sources including Nielsen, CGA Strategy and the Wilson Drinks Report.

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