Pub beer sales collapsed by 40% in March 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, according to new figures from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) reveal.
The BBPA said the “stark decrease” shows the immediate and devastating impact that lockdown is having on the British pub.
Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised members of the public to avoid the pub, and days later ordered pubs to close – stopping their businesses overnight and making them the first sector to be hit by the Covid-19 crisis.
BBPA revealed sales in the ‘off-trade’ – such as supermarkets and off-licenses – were up 10.6% on the same period last year.
However, the uplift did not make up for the huge loss of beer sales in pubs, resulting in total beer sales in March 2020 down 12.7% when compared to March 2019.
The group said: “The data is a clear demonstration of the cliff-edge impact of the Prime Minister’s advice to avoid pubs, followed by the order for them to close for lockdown. With March data showing the impact of 11 days of closure on pubs, April`s data will reveal the full impact of total closure with no sales in pubs at all.”
Whilst the government has given pubs some financial support to help them through the Covid-19 lockdown, which the BBPA has welcomed, the trade association has identified significant gaps that the government needs to fill.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “These stark figures reveal how the lockdown is having a devastating impact on our pubs.
“The cliff-edge impact on our sector in March, when people were told to stop going to the pub and then pubs were shut down, is clear to see. In April, beer sales for pubs will be zero. This is devastating our sector, who still have huge fixed costs to cover, far in excess of the sales revenue and financial support they are receiving from the government right now.”
She added: “Local pubs are the heart of our communities. They are vital socially, culturally and economically. Without further support, particularly for the 10,000 pubs who aren’t getting any grants, many pubs across the UK are in real jeopardy of being lost forever.
“When this crisis is over, the first place many will want to visit with their friends, family and neighbours is their local pub. The Government must invest in them now to save them for the future.”