More than 50% of the UK’s festive alcohol shop is tax, according to research commissioned by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

The research showed that British consumers pay more alcohol tax than most other countries in Europe; French consumers for example pay as little as 32% in tax on alcohol.

In the UK, an average Christmas alcohol spend (a combination of beers, wines and spirits) comes to £171.66 per family, but a whopping £88.19 of this will go straight to the taxman.

In France this shop would total £136.89 with just £43.52 allocated as tax.

The statement has led to renewed calls by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) for no increase to duty on wine and spirits at the next Budget.

Chief executive, Miles Beale, said: “Comparing the wine and spirit tax regime in the UK to that in France puts the UK’s high rate of excise duty firmly in the spotlight. Over 50% of the bill at the checkout will go straight to the Treasury.”

Beale added: “Earlier this year we communitcated the impact that the fall in sterling’s value will have on wine prices. Thus far businesses have been able to shoulder the burden by absorbing the extra costs. This will be welcome for consumers, particularly in the run up to Christmas. However, in the New Year, we should be under no illusion that prices will rise. In addition, with inflation levels rising to 1.2% in November, spirits prices will increase and wine will be hit again. 

“And that is also why it’s vital there is no increase to duty on wine and spirits at the next Budget in March. The Chancellor can provide welcome relief for businesses that have some extremely testing times ahead.”

The research based the average cost on stocking up a drinks cabinet at Christmas using a shopping list comprising of five bottles of wine, two bottles of Champagne, two bottles of other sparkling wine, three bottles of spirits, two bottles of Port, 24 cans of beer and 12 ciders.