The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has said Covid caused almost £1 billion in lost income for British distillers.

The WSTA said today that the latest figures show gin sales in the UK dropped almost £1 billion in value – from £2.7 billion in 2019 to £1.9billion in 2020. The fall was caused by the shuttered on-trade during the pandemic, the trade organisation said.

However, the dip in value for the sector came despite a “record number” of bottles of gin being sold in shops and online in 2020 – with around 78 million bottles sold – compared to 64 million bottles sold in the off-trade in 2019.

At the end of 2021, as restrictions began to lift, sales in the UK began to recover with £2.1 billion worth of gin sold in the on and off trade, the equivalent of almost 80 million bottles of gin, the WSTA reported.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA said: “To support British SME distillers to make up their losses, stop them going under and encourage their recovery, the Government should do three things: extend the hospitality VAT cut, modify the proposed Small Producers Relief scheme by opening it to distillers, and tax all alcohol at the same rate per unit. The last two would allow the chancellor to meet his own aims of– delivering a fairer taxation system by levelling the playing field.”