Brewers' hopes are dashed as sales fall

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The Independent Online

Hopes that the embattled brewing industry could be staging a comeback were dashed today as figures revealed that the amount of beer consumed in the UK dropped by 9.7% in the past three months.

Sales of beer in supermarkets and off-licences fell by 12% in the third quarter of 2010, while sales in pubs dropped by 7.8%.

The latest figures are in stark contrast to those for the second quarter of 2010, in which sales rose by 2.9% - their first quarterly increase for four years.

At the time the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said: "We can now hope the industry has turned a corner."

But the latest results show that the industry is still in decline and second quarter results were a blip, caused in part by the World Cup, which ran from June 11 to July 11.

"As has occurred after every World Cup, the beer market hit a bump in the road, which was not helped by a wet summer," said Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA.

"But these exceptional factors are underlaid by lingering economic and consumer uncertainty. Concern about the impact of public spending cuts on jobs and incomes and the forthcoming VAT and beer tax rises are feeding that unease."

She called on the government to give the beer and pub industry "a break" by reducing the tax on beer and reducing regulation on the industry

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