Some surprisingly positive figures in the latest BBPA British Beer Barometer. The statistics for the third quarter of 2013 show a 5.2% rise in beer sales compared with the same quarter last year, no doubt boosted by the prolonged spell of hot weather. This is the best quarter-on-quarter figure for the whole series of statistics dating back to 1997. However, the overall figure conceals a 12.5% rise in off-trade sales, balanced by a 1.2% fall in the on-trade, which maybe was not quite what CAMRA were looking for when they campaigned for the end of the duty escalator.
As always, the annualised figures give a better view of overall trends. Overall sales are 2.2% down year-on-year, with the off-trade only 0.1% lower, but the on-trade showing a fall of 4.2%, which in fact is higher than last year. So actually little change from the existing trend there, and no evidence that the duty cut has actually delivered any boost to pubs. Indeed, it looks as though the long-term movement from on- to off-trade, which seemed to have stalled for a while, has now resumed.