British beer sales have sunk to a 20-year-low across the first three months of the year.
According to new figures from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), which highlight the slump in sales as the lockdown forced the closure of the UK’s 47,000 pubs to close in mid-March.
Emma McClarkin, the BBPA chief executive, said: “These stark figures reveal how the lockdown is having a devastating impact on our world-class breweries and pubs.”
“To do this our sector needs at least three weeks notice so that our breweries can brew fresh beer and our pubs can get ready to reopen safely. Our pubs and breweries are desperately in need of this clarity.”
The figures showed that between January and March, pubs, bars, supermarkets, and shops sold 1.5bn pints of beer. This is 7.2% down on the same period last year and the lowest recorded figure since the body began publishing figures in the year 2000.
The period accounting for these figures only includes 10 days of the lockdown, yet accounts for 450,000 pints that weren’t consumed.
The figures are yet to face a much steeper slump over the next quarter, which was entirely during the lockdown.
Last month, Wetherspoons said that it plans to it will spend £11m on making its 875 pubs secure before they reopen.
The prime minister has insisted that pubs will open no earlier that 4 July.
“We want to reopen hospitality as quickly as we possibly can,” said Boris Johnson earlier this month.
“According to the roadmap, we were going to open outdoor hospitality no earlier than 4 July – that is still the plan. We are sticking to the plan. What we don’t want to see is a roiling, bacchanalian mass of people that can spread the disease.”