This Christmas threatens to be a sobering time for the drinks and drinks-related housewares industries as seasonal sales of alcohol continue to slide.

‘Tis no longer the season to be merry

This Christmas threatens to be a sobering time for the drinks and drinks-related housewares industries as seasonal sales of alcohol continue to slide.

'Tis no longer the season to be merry

New research from Mintel finds that, in real terms, fourth-quarter alcohol spend declined from £11.5bn in 2000 to £10.4bn in 2009, costing the industry over £1bn in lost revenue.

And Mintel forecasts that there are even tougher times to come, with a 9% drop from £40.5bn in 2008 to £37bn in 2009 in annual UK alcohol sales. This year has continued to see constricted levels of consumer spend, it adds.

Says Mintel’s senior drinks analyst Jonny Forsyth: “While over-indulging on alcohol used to be synonymous with Christmas tradition, alcohol drinkers can no longer easily rationalise such excesses, as they become increasingly aware of the adverse effects of alcohol.

“Not only that, money is tight. Research shows that apart from the optimistic young adults, the bulk of consumers are decidedly pessimistic about their financial situation improving over the next six months, suggesting that the alcohol market is in for a difficult Christmas.”

For those who do plan on some seasonal alcoholic refreshment – and nine in 10 consumers will buy alcohol at Christmas – the top five drinks rank as wine (65%), lager (51%), champagne/sparkling wine (33%) and vodka and liqueurs (both 24%).

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