The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) says Brits drank more wine and spirits — but less beer — during the 2020 lockdowns.

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The finding comes from new data published by the BBPA in its latest 2021 Statistical Handbook.

During the lockdowns of 2020, the percentage of wine consumed as a proportion of all alochol increased by two percentage points. Over the same period, beer’s share decreased by four percentage points, with total beer sales in 2020 falling by 14.2%. Over the same period, spirits consumption rose by two percentage points.

According to the BBPA, the key reason behind the shift in drinking habits during the pandemic was the forced closure of pubs. This led to Brits consuming wine and spirits bought from supermarkets and shops, instead of draught beer bought over the pub bar. Typically, seven in ten alcoholic drinks served in a pub are beer.

Pubs at the heart of their communities

The trade association says the data shows how crucial pubs are to encouraging moderate consumption of alcohol through draught beer, which is, on average, 4.2% ABV.

It also said the numbers demonstrated the damage of lockdowns to brewers, who lost a key route to market when pubs were forced to close during the lockdowns of 2020.

At the recent Budget, chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled changes to modernise the alcohol duty regime in the UK to better incentivise the consumption of lower-strength drinks. This, the BBPA hopes, will grow British beer’s market share once more. The reopening of pubs in 2021 should also see consumers choose draught beer over wine or spirits.

BBPA chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: “With pubs open and trading again in 2021, we hope customers will revert to choosing a beer at their local – a safe and managed space at the heart of communities throughout the UK.”

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