UK consumers pay 43% more for alcohol than the European average

British consumers are being hit by punishingly high alcohol prices compared with drinkers across the channel., according to the Office of National Statistics

The ONS analysis reveals that the UK has the fourth highest alcohol prices in the EU, beaten only by Sweden, Ireland and Finland.

The figures show that in the UK the alcohol beverage price level is 42.7% higher than the EU average. In comparison the French pay 11% below the EU average for their alcohol, in Spain it’s 16% below and in Bulgaria they pay 35% less than the EU average alcohol price.

The UK also pays the fourth highest duty level on spirits and 3rd highest duty rates for wine and beer in Europe.

The reality is that £2.16 of what Brits spend on an average priced bottle of still wine goes to the Treasury on duty. For sparkling wine £2.77 gets swallowed up by duty and when you buy an average priced bottle of spirits, at 40% abv, £8.05, of your hard-earned cash goes on duty.

On top of this the UK is dealing with rising inflation currently at 3%. All of which adds up to unfairly high prices for consumers when faced with their shopping bill.

Wine & Spirit Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale said: “Despite the Chancellor delivering a welcome and much-needed freeze on wine and spirit duty in the November Budget we still have a long way to go to rebalance the UK’s excessively high duty rates. British consumers will find it a hard fact to swallow that they are paying well above average for the luxury of enjoying a drink. In this cold weather people are looking at summer holiday destinations and these alcohol price comparisons make a holiday to France, Spain or Bulgaria a very attractive prospect. Our disproportionately high prices are not helping Britain promote itself as an attractive destination for tourists. The Government should do more to rebalance duty and offer British consumers a fairer deal and tourists to the UK a more attractive proposition – both of which would support the more than 550,000 people working in the UK’s world leading wine and spirit industry.”

Sales figures published in the last WSTA Market Report revealed the average price of a bottle of wine, sold in shops increased last year reaching £5.56, up 3% on the previous year.