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Spirit sales across Western Europe in sharp decline

Published:  28 February, 2017

Spirit sales across Western Europe have been hit by poor performances from the majority of countries, with only the UK and four other countries showing growth.

Overall spirits sales across the 17 countries declined from 1.98bn litres to £1.87 litres in the five years to 31 December 2015, according to a new report released by Euromonitor International this week.

The only countries where drinkers had been swigging more of the hard stuff in the five year period were the UK, Turkey, Belgium, Switzerland and Denmark, but the healthy performance of those were not enough to offset considerably volume declines from the two biggest markets - Germany and France.

Euromonitor put the overall decline down to a combination of factors apparent across most of Western Europe, including an ageing population (older people drink less) and more "eclectic drinking habits".

In addition, "tough economic conditions", especially in Southern European markets such as Spain, Portugal and Greece, had made their mark, said senior alcoholic drinks analyst Jeremy Cunnington.

While overall regional growth was expected to remain stagnant between 2015 and 2020, thanks to category maturity and negative demographic trends, there were "bright points" in growth terms, said Cunnington, adding the two "obvious countries" to (continue) to boost growth were the UK and Turkey.

"UK growth is driven by a wide range of categories, led by English gin and bitters and this more than offsets the declining categories led by blended Scotch and white rum, while Turkey's strength is based primarily on the fact that it is an emerging market and benefits from a younger growing population prepared to drink more international spirits."

Sales were expected to pick up in Spain and Portugal due to the "improving economy", he added.

The report also revealed that despite the volume decline, Western Europe has the third biggest regional per capita consumption of spirits globally.