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Sparkling wine is success story of 2014, as still wine sales fall, says WSTA report

Published:  19 December, 2014

Wine sales fell 3% in the off-trade in 2014, and 2% in the on-trade - but sparkling wines are still in the ascendancy, says the latest market report from the Wine & Spirits Trade Association.

Off-trade wine sales fell 3% in 2014, and 2% in the on-trade - but sparkling wines are still in the ascendancy, says the latest market report from the Wine & Spirits Trade Association.

Meanwhile pubs and bars are pinning their hopes on a busy festive season after overall drinks sales throughout 2014 fell 3%.

While there's a slightly brighter picture in BWS in the off-trade which reports volume growth of 1% annually, it is mostly thanks to a 2% increase in beer and 1% increase in spirits sales. Wine sales fell 3% in the 12-month period.

Champagne & Sparkling wineSparkling wine and Champagne showed strong growth in 2014

Sparkling wine was the one bright spot in the off-trade wine category - with sales up 29% in the last 12 weeks and 17% for the year. Old World wines were hit particularly hard, as French, Italian, German and Spanish wines continued their long term volume and value decline.

Spirits also did well with sales up 3% in the latest 12 weeks, led by an 11% increase in liqueurs.

In the on-trade, wine sales fell 4% this quarter and 2% throughout the year, with sales from most of the top 10 countries down. France and New Zealand proved the exceptions in Q4, with Kiwi wines enjoying an uplift of 16%. Sparkling wine was up 15% in the past 12 months, although it stopped increasing so rapidly - only growing in single figures - in the last 12 weeks. Champagne was up 9% in the quarter and 4% over the year, perhaps indicating that consumer confidence is returning.

On-premise spirits sales were down again this quarter by 5%, with vodka and whiskey sales both dropping by 7% in the last 12 weeks, although gin bucked the trend in double digit volume and value growth.

The final quarterly report of the year follows the launch of the body's Drop the Duty! Campaign earlier this week, in conjunction with the Scotch Whisky Association and TaxPayers' Alliance. It is calling for a 2% cut in alcohol duty to help support Britain's pub sector. Economic analysis from EY shows a 2% cut in duty for wine and spirits would boost the public finances by £1.5 billion and enable the hospitality sector, where wine and spirits are worth £10 billion, to boost its sales and employment.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: "The latest market report suggests it has been another mixed trading period for the sector. The fall in on-trade sales will be of concern for restaurants, bars and pubs - which are increasingly reliant on wine and spirit sales.

"If the Chancellor is serious about helping the hospitality sector, then the time has come to drop the duty, not just on beer again, but on wine and spirits too."   

The WSTA's market report uses data from leading independent sources Nielsen and CGA Strategy, while the consumer research is based on YouGov and WSTA analysis.