Party over as alcohol sales fall
But new-found abstinence has resulted in loss of 10,000 jobs, says industry
THE party is well and truly over, with alcohol consumption now back to pre-Celtic Tiger levels. However, our new-found abstinence has cost more than 10,000 jobs in the past two years, according to the alcohol industry.
The Irish pub has been the biggest loser, with bar sales falling by more than 11pc last year alone, says a new report published by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) today.
We are now drinking less than at any time since 1995-1996, and cuts to the cost of drink have failed to stop the trend.
The Drinks Market Performance Report 2009 is to confirm earlier predictions that the industry would see a 10pc decline in business during 2009.
The drop in alcohol sales is worse than that experienced in 2008, and a further decline -- albeit less steep -- is expected over the next 12 months.
Cross-border shopping had a big impact on the trade, with up to 10pc of off-licence sales moving north during 2009.
Bar sales -- which include food but primarily consist of alcohol -- fell even further at 11.1pc.
In 2008 there were 100,000 people employed in the drinks industry -- in factories, pubs, hotels and off-licences -- but the number working in the trade has fallen by more than 10,000.
The majority of jobs lost were in bars which are the biggest employer in the sector, the report found.
Farmers have also been adversely affected by the decline in alcohol sales. Greencore recently axed the contracts of 500 suppliers to its malting barley division because of the downturn in beer sales, both at home and in overseas markets.
With some 1,500 pubs closing in the last five years, DIGI predicts that another 2,000 establishments will close their doors in the coming decade.
Meanwhile, publicans will be watching the impact of a British initiative to save rural pubs. A £3m (€3.3m) cash injection was announced in the UK on Friday.
DIGI said Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's excise reduction in last December's Budget had not led to any upturn in the trade. They added that sales of spirits had been the worst hit
DIGI said it was not seeking any further government measures to stimulate alcohol sales.
The group also opposes any new measures to regulate further the industry, or limit its right to advertise or sponsor events.