Gin bucks trend of on-trade spirits decline

19th December, 2014 by Amy Hopkins

While vodka and whisky sales have continued to drop in UK bars over the past three months, gin sales bucked the trend of decline.

Barrel-aged-gin

Overall spirits sales have declined in UK bars over the past quarter, but gin has seen double digit growth

According to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s (WSTA) final market report for 2014, while there has been a return to volume growth in the UK off-trade over the past 12 months, overall sales fell by 3%.

A 1% increase in annual spirits sales pushed a 1% overall volume increase in the off-trade, against a 3% decline in wine sales.

In the on-trade, sales of wine, spirits, and beer were all down over the short and long term, although the WSTA notes signs of “positive annual value growth”, suggesting consumers may be going out less but treating themselves when they do.

In the final quarter of this year, spirits sales were down 5% in the UK on-trade, with vodka and whisky sales dropping 7% each. However, gin managed to buck the trend of decline, reporting double-digit volume and value growth.

Spirits were, however, the strongest performing category in the off-trade in the final quarter of 2014, with overall sales up 3%, led by an 11% increase in liqueurs. Meanwhile, wine sales dropped 3%, with old world expressions struggling the most with long-term volume and value decline.

“The latest market report suggests it has been another mixed trading period for the sector,” said Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA. “The fall in on-trade sales will be of concern for restaurants, bars and pubs – which are increasingly reliant on wine and spirit sales.

Last month, the WSTA once again partnered up with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and Tax Payers’ Alliance to lobby the UK government for a 2% reduction in spirits tax with their Drop the Duty campaign.

The companies claim such reduction could generate £1.5 billion for public finances.

“If the Chancellor is serious about helping the hospitality sector, then the time has come to drop the duty, not just on beer again, but on wine and spirits too,” added Beale.

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