The beer category suffered falling sales across the board in the first quarter of 2018, according to new stats from the British Beer & Pub Association.

The trade body’s quarterly beer barometer showed that off-trade volume sales dipped 1.5% compared to the same period in 2017, while on-trade sales were down 1.7%.

“Beer sales experienced another fall at the beginning of the year and the industry will be hoping for better prospects this summer, especially as the FIFA World Cup will be a big draw to the pub,” said Brigid Simmons, chief executive at the BBPA. “What’s still needed is a continued focus from the Government to reduce the tax burden on beer and pubs to ensure their success in the future.”

It is worth noting, however, that off-trade beer sales grew 11.3% in Q1 2017, so it was always going to be difficult to match that strong performance.

Yet Dry January could be a contributing factor to the decline. In Q4 of 2018, off-trade beer volumes rose 3.6% to more than 4 million barrels, and the annual volume sales picture for the off-trade beer category is still positive.

Off-trade beer volumes overtook the on-trade for the first time in Q4 2014 and it remains the leading channel for the category.