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Brits fork out 50% in tax on festive drinks shop

Published:  06 January, 2015

British consumers forked out over 50% on tax for their festive alcohol shop, as taxes have surged by 19% in the past four years.

British consumers forked out over 50% on tax for their festive alcohol shop, as taxes have surged by 19% in the past four years.

Meanwhile, French shoppers paid only 30% in tax for the same shop, says new analysis carried out for the Wine & Spirit Trade Association.

An average family spends £171.08 on its festive alcohol shop - which includes 24 cans of beer, 12 bottles of cider, two bottles of Port, five bottles of wine, two bottles of Champagne, two bottles of sparkling wine and three bottles of spirits. Of this £90.44 of this goes directly to the Chancellor, the analysis shows.

In France, the equivalent shop would be £128.58, a full £42.50 cheaper than the UK. Tax paid on the French shop (duty plus VAT) is £38.65, which is £52 less than in the UK. The difference between the two baskets can entirely be accounted for by alcohol duty, with the difference in duty alone (not including VAT) coming in at £44.71.

Drop the DutyThe trade bodies representing the wine and spirits industry have joined forces in calling for a 2% cut in dutyMiles Beale, WSTA CEO; and David Frost, his counterpart at the SWA, pictured at the launch of the Droip the Duty Campaign.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: "These figures are staggering. Not only is it outrageous that UK consumers are having to face such tax increases, but it adds insult to injury when French consumers are paying significantly less. 

"By making a modest cut in duty on wine and spirits at the next budget the Chancellor would provide welcome relief for the UK public and hopefully mean that, next Christmas, consumers' money will be able to go that little bit further." 

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "This is a shocking report and reveals just how hard British consumers are hit compared to their continental neighbours. Politicians always talk about the cost of living crisis, but they make it far worse by levying too-high taxes on everyday goods. December is expensive enough for hard-pressed families up and down the UK without the Chancellor taking a Christmas bonus on festive tipples. It's time to drop the duty."


UK vs France Christmas alcohol costs:


Cost of average Christmas shop



Amount of tax paid on the average Christmas shop



Percentage of Christmas shop which is tax



Alcohol tax increases since 2010:

IncreaseWith taxw/out tax

Cost increase on Christmas shop since 2010

£27.20 (19%)

£14.54 (8%)

Cost increase on Christmas shop since 2012

£10.57 (7%)

£ 5.93 (3%)

The WSTA and Scotch Whisky Association, in partnership with the Taxpayers' Alliance, recently launched their 'Drop the Duty!' campaign', calling for a modest 2% cut in alcohol duty at the next UK budget in March 2015. 

Using the strapline, 'Small drop, big cheer', the campaign calls on the UK trade as well as consumers to take action and speak out about the unfair level of tax by emailing their MP via the campaign website.