BEER sales increased by around a billion pints last year as demand recovered from the impact of lockdowns imposed amid the pandemic , research shows.

A study by UHY Hacker Young found beer sales increased by 13 per cent last year, to 4.6 billion litres, from 4.1bn in 2020.

The accountancy group said the increase is equivalent to 1.1 billion pints of beer.

It noted: “People drinking at home during the height of the pandemic replaced beer with wine or spirits, resulting in a 13% fall in beer sales in 2020. Now pubs have reopened, beer sales have swiftly recovered to 98% of their pre-pandemic 2019 level.”

Beer sales totalled around 4.7bn litres in 2019.

UHY Hacker Young found the reopening of pubs last year was accompanied by falls of around 3% and 12% respectively in total sales of wine and spirits.

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Partner James Simmonds said: “The pandemic saw a sudden shift in people’s drinking habits, with a move away from beer. That seems to have been temporary – we are now seeing consumers flooding back to beer.”

Beer sales were boosted by the European football championships last year. The impact of lockdowns in the preceding year was felt most keenly by small breweries, which may have only held licenses to sell to the pub trade.

“Many breweries potentially struggled to acquire licenses to begin direct sales to the public quickly when the pandemic began,” said UHY Hacker Young.