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There’s some consolation for the British brewing industry in the latest beer sales figures from the BBPA, which show that in the first quarter of 2011, the decline compared with the equivalent quarter last year had eased from 5.0% to 3.8%, with both on- and off-trade showing a similar reduction.

However, looking at the annualised figures, on-trade sales are still 6.5% down on the previous year and annual on-trade volumes are now only just above 14 million barrels. Let us see if April’s good weather and the run of four bank holidays give the pub trade a boost, or if the duty hikes in the Budget lead to a further downward spiral.