The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has reported beer sales were up 2.6% in 2018, the biggest year-on-year growth in sales for 45 years, according to its latest Beer Barometer sales data.

Off-trade sales such as those made at supermarkets and convenience stores increased by 4.7%, while on-trade sales in pubs increased by 0.1% compared with beer sales in 2017.

Total beer sales were down by 1.7% in Q1, but grew consistently in the months afterwards. Sales increased by 3.6% in Q2, 4.4% in Q3, and 3.1% in Q4, making 2018 a record year for beer.

According to BBPA, the increase in beer sales during Q2 and Q3 was down to England’s progress at the World Cup, which drove footfall in pubs from fans watching the games.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “2018 has been a good year for beer and pubs. Considering the heavy cost burdens the industry faces from high beer duty, business rates and rising costs in general, it’s great to see beer sales doing the best they have for some years.

“A significant amount of the growth in beer sales in 2018 can be attributed to the England team’s performance at the World Cup and the good weather over the summer months.

“The Chancellor’s decision in the 2018 Autumn Budget to freeze beer tax also appears to have had an immediate impact, with sales of beer in pubs growing in the last quarter of 2018 by 2.2%. This shows just how important reducing the beer tax burden is to boosting sales of beer and helping pubs with their footfall.

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“As the UK’s alcohol drink of choice, which continues to have a much bigger, positive impact on the UK economy than any other drink, it is important that beer continues to do well and that the Chancellor continues to support pubs.”

BBPA said that pubs and off-trade businesses cannot rely on the World Cup and good weather for growth of sales every year.

Beer sales grew 2.2% at the end of 2018, the first time Q4 beer sales grew in the on-trade sector since 2011, down in part to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s decision to freeze beer, cider and spirit duties in the most recent budget.