Beer sales fall flat as drinkers abandon pubs
BEER sales have slumped as people turn away from the pub because of the downturn.
New figures show we're buying fewer pints in the pub, with lager sales down 2pc in the last 12 months alone.
And despite a booming international market, sales of draught Guinness and Smithwicks in Ireland plummeted by 5pc in the 12 months to June 2012, Diageo results show.
That's even before a price hike comes into effect next week which publicans warn could put even more punters off.
But despite losing out to wine and whiskey in recent years, beer still remains Ireland's tipple of choice.
In fact, we glug our way through 472 million litres of it a year, figures from the Irish Brewers' Association reveal.
These show that beer now accounts for 47pc of all the alcohol we drink in Ireland, down from the days when pints reigned supreme.
However, that still puts beer comfortably ahead of challengers like wine at 26pc, spirits at 19pc and ciders at 8pc.
But because nearly two-thirds of all beer consumed in Ireland is still drunk in the pub, this means it's been hit harder than other drinks by the shift towards home drinking, which is now threatening to overtake pub consumption for the first time.
That's shown by the fact that excise revenues on beer have plummeted from €427m in 2008 to just €307m, whereas for wine they've held steady at €231m.
The latest figures from market research company Nielsen show total bar sales of alcohol fell by 4pc in the 12 months to August 2012. Instead, consumers splashed out an extra 4pc on drink in off-licences and supermarkets in that time.
"Alcohol promotions and offers in supermarkets are of course a big part of this, helping the trend of cash-strapped consumers swapping nights out for nights in," Nielsen said.
Big brands still dominate the bestseller list with Guinness at number one and Heineken at number two in pubs.
In fact, one in three pints served up in Irish pubs is still a pint of plain, according to trade magazine 'Hospitality Ireland'.
It's a different story in off-licences however, where Budweiser is the number one choice, followed by Heineken and Guinness, according to 'Checkout' magazine.