Brewing in the UK slumped to their lowest levels for 20 years in the first quarter of 2020, as the lockdown continues hit pubs.

Figures released today by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), show that beer sales for the first quarter were down 7.2 per cent compared to the same period last year. The 1.5bn pints sold marked the lowest rate since 2000.

The BBPA said the fall was “entirely down to those in pubs and bars”, which saw sales drop 16.4 per cent year-on-year to a record low of 668m pints.

But the data from the BBPA only accounts for the three months up to 31 March — just one week into lockdown — meaning an even larger slump is likely for the second quarter.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said the figures highlighted “the immediate impact the Covid-19 lockdown had on the beer and pub industry.”

“These stark figures reveal how the lockdown is having a devastating impact on our world class breweries and pubs. The cliff-edge impact on our sector, when people were told to stop going to the pub and then when they were shut down, is clear to see.”

McClarkin said the government should “get Britain brewing again” by providing clarity on when pubs and bars will be able to reopen. The Prime Minister has said they will open “no earlier” than 4 July, however he failed to confirm whether the date is definite,

The BBPA warned pubs need a minimum of three weeks notice to prepare to reopen. It said the UK’s 2,000 brewers need time to scale-up their operations to start re-supplying pubs with fresh beer, noting that lager takes upwards of three weeks to brew.

“Our pubs and breweries are desperately in need of this clarity,” said McClarkin. “Beer sales were at a record low in the first quarter of this year, so it’s imperative we get brewing our beer again and re-open pubs as soon as possible.”

A decision on when to reopen pubs has been delayed by government uncertainty on whether it is safe to relax the two-metre social distancing rule.

UK Hospitality has estimated that pubs and bars will be limited to just 30 per cent of normal revenue if the two-metre rule is upheld. Pubs will be able to regain around 70 per cent of usual earnings, however, if social distancing rules are reduced to one metre.

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