Pubs worth €1bn to Exchequer as industry chief toasts sales rise
Pub retail sales contributed over €1bn to the Exchequer in 2016, according to research conducted by the Vintners' Federation of Ireland.
The study also found that since 2014, retail sales volume in bars has increased by 9.1pc.
"Alcohol sales are rising again after a fall of about one-third between 2007-2013 due to the downturn following the Celtic tiger," Pádraig Cribben CEO of the VFI said.
"We are now witnessing amazing growth in food production and consumption in pubs.
"The level of employment in pubs is also rising, it is difficult to put a figure on these numbers at present but they are certainly up," he said.
Speaking ahead of the Vintners' Federation AGM, Mr Cribben said that in 2017 those working in the industry were witnessing a level of stabilisation and recovery, however the recovery was coming from a very low point.
He credited those working in the industry for their innovation, while noting that the rising numbers of tourists also contributed.
The research found that pubs in traditional tourist areas take on 12,000 extra seasonal staff annually, which Mr Cribben said was a good form of employment for students and people who want part-time work.
However, he provided a note of caution in respect of challenges to the industry including Brexit.
"The biggest concern for the industry is always the availability of disposable income, if people don't have money to spend, entertainment spending will be at the bottom end of the scale," he said.
"In this context Brexit is a concern. It is too early to say what affect it will have but is a very significant concern. It's the uncertainty rather than the actuality that is sometimes worse."
Other challenges highlighted by Mr Cribben included rising insurance costs which he said had become a major issue, as well as the high cost of sports coverage, and excise duty levels.
He also issued a warning on the application of regulation, saying that publicans were having to deal with various arms of government "that have sometimes competing and sometimes contradictory requirements. The way the regulation is applied and the number of arms that you have to deal with needs to be reviewed," he said.
The research also highlights the role of the pubs in local communities, with 44pc of publicans buying from local grocers and 25pc buying produce from their local butchers. Further to this, almost one-in-two pubs are currently supporting a local sports club or outdoor event, the research found.
The research also looked at consumer attitudes to Irish pubs and found that more than one-in-two surveyed visit the pub at least once a week.
Among those surveyed, 80pc went to the pub to meet friends and family, while 47pc of those surveyed said they visited the pub to have a meal. In respect of views on pub culture, 88pc of people want to see Irish pub culture and heritage preserved, while a further 62pc believe the role the pub plays in the local community is extremely important.
Among the tourists that were surveyed, 88pc of respondents said they had visited a pub on their visit to Ireland, with 'music and entertainment' cited as what they most enjoyed.
In total, over 1,500 consumers participated in the survey carried out by the VFI.