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UK gin sales grew at slower pace

Gin sales in the UK were valued at around £2.6 billion (US$3.3bn) last year despite a slowdown in growth, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

WSTA: “We knew that growth in the gin category would slow eventually”

Consumers purchased 83 million bottles of gin last year, an increase of 14%, figures from trade body the WSTA revealed. The value of gin in the UK rose by 24% last year.

In 2019, gin sales continued to grow, although at a slower pace, the WSTA noted, as distillers continue to innovate in the category and provide more choice for consumers.

Miles Beale, chief executive of WSTA, said: “Gin sales continued to grow throughout 2019 despite a number of predictions that the bubble will have to burst soon.

“We knew that growth in the gin category would slow eventually, it was always inevitable given the incredible numbers we were seeing from 2016 onwards. We remain optimistic that British gin will continue to create a stir at home and abroad as our innovative distillers continue to produce new colours, creations and botanical masterpieces.”

By 2016 gin was growing by double digits in both volume and value sales, with 2018 witnessing a peak growth period where volume sales were up 42% and value sales rose by 50%, the WSTA said.

British gin sales abroad reached £672m (US$872.7m) in 2019, according to figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

There are at least 441 distilleries in the UK according to the latest figures from 2019. In comparison, there were 152 distilleries in 2013, 96 of which were in Scotland.

The WSTA also cited a CGA survey which showed that gin was the best-selling spirit for online shoppers in March as the UK enforced lockdown measures.

The trade body said it will be interesting to see how the category performs in 2020 after the UK on-trade was told to shut in March due to the pandemic.

‘Post-pandemic recovery’

Beale added: “Online demand for gin has outstripped all others in the spirit category during the lockdown of the last few months, and provided that SMEs [small and medium enterprise] can survive the ongoing economic uncertainty wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s clear that gin’s success can be maintained at home and replicated abroad as our distillers look to export.

“British spirits are world renowned. Provided our SMEs can survive the current economic uncertainty there is potential – and significant motivation – to build UK spirits exports. But, this will need the right government support, especially for SME distillers. We believe British gin exports could be a tonic for British SMEs post-pandemic recovery.”

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