Drink sales in bars and restaurants decreased in 2011, with the total volume of bar sales down nearly 6% on the previous year, a new report has found.
The study from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) showed that the overall drinks market declined by 0.17%.
DIGI said that Ireland’s pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants are continuing to suffer major declines with a knock-on effect on local businesses and revenues.
The decline in bar sales in 2011 was offset by a 5% increase in the off-licence market, which now accounts for almost 60% of all alcohol consumed in Ireland.
This report also shows that the average adult consumes less alcohol now, falling by 0.14% to 11.7 litres per year.
DIGI chairman Kieran Tobin said: "From 2008-2011 alcohol sales in Ireland fell dramatically through the onset of the recession and downturn, and as a result of cross-border trade. The on-trade in Ireland is currently operating at only 70% of its 2007 level.
"The situation remains fragile with pubs, bars, nightclubs, hotels, restaurants and independent off-licences continuing to close as a result of consumers not spending. This has obvious consequences for the 62,000 jobs across the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol, as well as for businesses and communities throughout Ireland.
"The Government reduction in alcohol excise by 20% in December 2009 helped arrest cross-border shopping and has stabilised the overall market. Further measures such as last year’s reduction in VAT on tourism related activities have had a tangible positive impact on the hospitality sector and on reducing prices. DIGI welcomes all such initiatives and asks the Government to maintain them.
"While Irish drinks exports continue to perform strongly on international markets, this success is founded on a solid domestic base. In this regard, we look forward to working with the Government to find ways to assist our industry at home by incentivising consumers to go out, socialise, and spend money in the wider hospitality sector, while simultaneously identifying new markets for our products abroad."