German beer sales suffer as virus restrictions bite

BERLIN — Beer sales in Germany were down 5.5% last year, dragged lower by lengthy closures of bars and restaurants in the coronavirus pandemic, official data showed today.

German-based breweries and distributors sold 2.3 billion gallons of beer last year, the Federal Statistical Office said. That figure doesn’t include alcohol-free beer or beer imported from outside the European Union.

German beer sales have been declining for years as a result of health concerns and other factors. They have now fallen 22.3% since 1993.

But last year’s drop was unusually sharp, and a month-by-month breakdown pointed to the impact of coronavirus restrictions. Sales were down 17.3% in April compared with a year earlier, and 14.1% in November.

Bars and restaurants in Germany were closed from March until May, and have been closed again since the beginning of November as part of the country’s current second lockdown. Major events and festivals that would usually consume large amounts of beer also have been canceled.

Sales inside Germany — which made up nearly 83% of the total — were down 5.5% last year. Exports to other countries in the EU dropped 13.1% to 206 million gallons while those to nations elsewhere were up 3.7% to 725.3 million liters 192 million gallons.