Scotland business

Scotch whisky sales in UK 'shrink by 5%'

Scotch whisky Image copyright Thinkstock

The UK market for Scotch whisky shrank by almost 5% last year, new figures have shown.

The number of 70cl bottles released for sale fell from 87.5 million in 2013 to 83.3 million, according to figures from HM Revenue and Customs.

The figures were obtained by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which is campaigning for a cut in spirits duty.

SWA officials want Chancellor George Osborne to announce a 2% tax cut in his Budget statement on Wednesday.

The trade body said the domestic market had contracted by 9.5% since 2009.

It attributed the drop to "onerous" levels of taxation, amounting to 78% as a share of the price of an average bottle.

In last year's Budget, Mr Osborne froze duty on spirits and scrapped the alcohol duty escalator, which had increased duty annually by inflation plus 2% since 2008.

'Export success'

SWA said a duty cut this year would assist growth across the entire sector.

Chief executive David Frost said: "Scotch whisky is a massive export success for the UK so it's obviously disappointing to see this decline in volumes in our domestic market.

"In next week's Budget the chancellor has the perfect opportunity to support an important UK industry. He should cut spirits duty by 2%. This move would also benefit consumers and public finances.

"In last year's Budget, the chancellor highlighted Scotch whisky as a 'huge British success story'.

"We hope this year too he will show his support for this world-class manufacturing industry."

More on this story