BEER sales in the first quarter of 2016 were just one per cent down on a year ago.
And industry leaders say it signals stability in the pub trade after years of decline.
The British Beer and Pub Association says three successive beer duty cuts and a freeze in this year’s Budget have helped to build confidence in the industry.
But local publicans say there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to help boost trade – particularly during periods when there aren’t big events that will bring people out.
British Beer and Pub Association chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said: ‘Beer sales are certainly doing better overall, and there are good prospects for the second quarter, with Euro 2016 and the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations a key draw for pubs.
‘To avoid any return to the sharp declines in sales of recent years, we will need continued focus from the government on the tax burden, not just on beer, but also on pubs, through a fairer business rates regime and other burdens on small business.’
Paul Saynor, co-landlord of The Rose in June, in Milton Road, Copnor, Portsmouth, said: ‘It’s stable, yes, but I don’t know if the industry is growing.
‘We are showing fairly steady figures year on year.
‘But I wouldn’t say we are out of the doldrums yet by any means. People are checking out what they want to do and watching their pennies.
‘People come out for the big events and enjoy themselves, but it’s what happens in between that is the concern.
‘You need that steady trade, and if you don’t have that, you will struggle.’