Christmas alcohol sales to dip

Alcohol sales over Christmas are forecast to drop as a report unveils that the festive season is becoming steadily less profitable for producers and retailers.

Christmas Drinking

Research firm Mintel says that spend on alcohol in the final quarter of the year declined 10% over the last decade from £11.5bn in 2000 to £10.4bn in 2009.

The drop over the October to December period compares with a 4% decline for the alcohol market as a whole.

Christmas sales have plummeted further since the start of the economic downturn, Mintel claims, with income in the final quarter of 2009 dipping 9% year on year to £37bn, from £40.5bn in 2008.

Jonny Forsyth, senior drinks analyst at Mintel, says that 2010 is likely to see this downward trend continue.

“The VAT increase and above inflation excise duty increase planned for 2011 will also raise the cost of most alcohol drinks by as much as 8%, which will be a hard pill for consumers to swallow as they continue to feel the pinch.”

Alcohol producers and retailers ramp up their marketing activity over Christmas to exploit the festive spirit. Pernod Ricard and Diageo both recently unveiled significant multi-brand pushes.

Economic uncertainty aside, Mintel found that consumers’ attitude to drinking over Christmas appears to have changed.

Over a third of the population (35%) now disagree with the notion that “Christmas would not be the same without drinking”, Mintel says.

Wine is the most popular drink over Christmas, Mintel found, with 65% of Britons indulging.

Lager is second, on 51%, with champagne/sparkling wine third on 33%.

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