Brits drank 139 million fewer pints last year

Almost 140 million fewer pints of beer were sold in pubs across Britain last year as sales continued to fall amid more closures and job losses in the trade, new figures have revealed.

The fall in sales slowed, but the government was warned that an increase in beer tax in the March Budget will continue the decline.

The British Beer & Pub Association reported a 3.4 per cent slump in beer sales in 2011, the slowest rate since 2004, but representing 139 million fewer pints.

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About 9,000 jobs were lost in the sector, mainly in pubs, with an average of 14 pubs closing every week in the first half of the year. A spokeswoman said: “The decline in beer sales has slowed, but these figures show the sector cannot afford another round of inflation-busting, beer tax hikes in the Budget.

“This will delay any potential recovery in an iconic and economically vital British industry.”

Beer sales support about one million jobs and generate almost £8 billion in tax revenues.

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