Over-65s head up at-home drinking as volumes decline

UK off-trade ales of alcoholic drinks for at-home consumption are up 15% in the last five years, although volumes are in decline thanks to rising prices and a health conscious younger generation.

According to new data from researcher Mintel, published this week, volume sales of alcohol for at-home consumption during the same period from 2009-2014 fell by nearly 3%, from 3.9 billion litres to 3.8 billion litres.

Having jumped by 5% in 2010, value growth in this at-home sector has continued to rise since then by 2-4% each year and is expected to reach £16.1bn by the end of this year, 2.5% higher than 2013. Mintel predicts that growth will continue in the future to reach £18bn by 2019.

However, the company also forecasts a  downward trend for volume off-trade sales, which are expected to shrink by around 3% from their present level to reach 3.7 billion litres by 2019.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Johnny Forsyth, global drinks analyst at Mintel, said: #8232;”Alcohol consumption in the UK is in decline reflecting considerations such as continued financial pressures and health awareness. Initiatives such as the now-abandoned alcohol tax escalator, while raising extra money for the public purse, have pushed up prices at a time when discretionary spending is squeezed.”

Mintel also highlights higher levels of alcohol consumption at home among the over-65-year-old age group, with 18% drinking at home on a daily basis, compared to just 11% of 18-24-year-olds.

Commenting on the contrast between public perception and reality, Forsyth said: “The current generation of younger drinkers are one of the most sensible generations we have seen*, and their attitude to alcohol – and indeed all drugs – is far more conservative than their Baby Boomer parents.”

In terms of the most popular drinks being consumed at home, Mintel identified wine as the leader, with 68% of people choosing this category. In second place was lager, chosen by 50% of people who drink at home, followed by cider at 41%.

However, this league table changes according to age group, with 82% of over-65s choosing to drink wine, compared to 58% of 18-24-year olds. Meanwhile lager proved the most popular drink for the 25-44-year-old demographic, where 58% of people chose this category, compare to just 26% of over-65s.

“Cider has been the big winner in retail over the past couple of years, led by 18-24 year-old men and women. It now has 56% in-home penetration among this younger age group. which puts it equal to beer, which has struggled to engage with younger women,” said Forsyth.

*According to figures published by the Office for National Statistics yesterday (Thursday July 24), the rate of underage drinking among 11 to 15 year olds in England has fallen to its lowest ever rate since records began in 1988.

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