Pub sales fall 14pc as tipples at home take hold
THE Irish love affair with the pub is continuing to decline as our flirtation with a glass of wine or a beer on the sofa at home becomes a growing habit.
Figures from the drinks industry show that pub sales dropped by more than 14pc in the first seven months of this year, compared with the same period last year.
But drink sales are up, according to the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), which represents off-licence trade as well as vintners.
And our cash-strapped Government will be delighted to learn that we are no longer dragging gallons of spirits across the Border.
DIGI credited the Government's excise duty reduction in the last Budget for the fall-off in cross-border alcohol shopping.
Overall, alcohol sales rose by 6.4pc in the first six months of the year.
But DIGI chairman Kieran Tobin said the sales increases were confined to the off-trade. The rise in drink sales here was directly linked to the drop in the price differential between the cost of alcohol here and in the North.
DIGI secretary and CEO of the Licensed Vintners Association Donall O'Keeffe said the pub sector was in a "crisis situation", and there was no sign of market conditions improving.
The drinks body says it wants to work with the Government to identify further measures to help the industry in the Budget, in order to prevent closures and save jobs.
The 14pc drop in drink sales during the first seven months of 2010 compares with a decline of 8.8pc for the entire 12 months of 2009.
The deterioration of the economic environment and the growing trend toward drinking at home is being blamed for the downturn.
Bars are experiencing "unprecedented declines", Mr O'Keeffe said in the report.
The 6.4pc overall growth of alcohol sales during the period is due to "double digit" growth in alcohol sales at off-licence stores, DIGI said.
"In the short to medium term, there is absolutely no sign of market conditions improving for the pub trade," Mr O'Keeffe said.