With our big comfortable sofas, vast armoury of networked gadgets and fridges groaning under the weight of chilled Chardonnay, it is little wonder that Britons are finding it ever more difficult to find reasons to venture out into the real world for a tipple.
Today however the long term trend towards stay-at-home drinking and socialising passed an important milestone when it emerged that households had spent more on alcohol consumption at home than they did in pubs, bars and restaurants.
According to the Office for National Statistics last year an average of £7.80 went on wine, beer and spirits brought from the off licence or supermarket – up 50p - compared to £7.40 spent in licensed premises.
The change marks a reversal from 2011 when households spent 10p more drinking in public each week than they did within their own four walls.
The figures coincide with new research which suggests that people aged under 30 – traditionally the most gregarious – now prefer to socialise in their or a friends’ home rather than pay the premium of being served food or drink.
Figures from the CGA-Peach Consumer Index revealed that those yet to reach 40 made an average of 1.44 visits to a friend’s home to meet up each week compared to 1.31 occasions on which they went out for a drink or 0.58 times they had a meal out.
The research found that while still more socially active, under 30s were either choosing or forced to gather at a friend’s house more often than any other age group.
The study showed that going for a coffee was now the third most popular leisure outing beating attending a concert or hitting a night club.
James Bennett of CGA-Peach said: “It is fair to say that under-30s do have a greater tendency to spend more time at a friend’s house per week but still they make more visits per week into the leisure market than the average consumer.”
According to a recent survey the average person aged under 34 visited 14 different branded food or drink outlets in the past six months compared to just 10 among the over 35s.
Despite increasing warnings over the effects of binge drinking particularly on the young middle aged, alcohol consumption in the UK fell by 3.3 per cent in 2012 – marking a 16 per cent decline since 2004. For the first time since 1998 consumption fell below eight litres a head.
Neil Williams of the British Beer & Pub Association said the relative decline in the popularity of beer drinking against wine and the increasing numbers of home comforts was behind the cultural shift.
“These are long term trends of how people use their leisure time. Fifty years ago the pub was one of the only leisure options for a lot of people. Now people have so many choices and their own homes have become entertainment zones in a way that they were not before,” he said.
In 1970 nine out of every 10 pints of beer was drunk in the pub. Today it is roughly half and half. Meanwhile sales of wine have doubled since the Blue Nun age with UK consumption averaging six litres a year. Twice as much is now spent per household on wine to be drunk at home compared to beer.
It is estimated that 12 pubs, where beer remains the most popular drink, close each week, the majority of them in suburban areas.
Campaigners have called on the Government to reverse the 42 per cent beer duty increase imposed on beer since 2008 and urged a rethink on charging VAT on restaurant food whilst ready meals are exempt.
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