IRISH DRINKERS HEAD for the BORDER
TIMES ARE TOUGH indeed in Ireland. According to a report released by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland alcohol consumption dropped dramatically last year because of the weak economy and cross-border sales in Northern Ireland, bringing average consumption levels in 2OO8 back to where they were a decade ago. The volume of alcohol consumption declined by nearly 6 percent in 2OO8, compared with an increase of 2.5 percent the previous year. The chairman of the industry group, Kieran Tobin, said that 2OO9 will be even worse if current trends continue. He projected that 1O percent of alcohol sales at shops this year will migrate to Northern Ireland, constituting a $135 million loss in tax revenue for the state, as well as thousands of jobs – particularly in border regions. Irish shoppers have headed to the British territory of Northern Ireland during the past year to capitalize on the strength of the euro, buying not just alcohol but other goods as well. Taking taxes into account, Irish shoppers can save about $13.5O on a bottle of whiskey, Tobin said. Up to 9OOO jobs will be lost in all sectors of the alcohol industry in 2OO9, Tobin said. The performance of the alcohol market was worse in the second half of 2OO8 than in the first, and the year itself was the worst-performing in a quarter of a century. Volume declined across all four alcohol categories: Cider decreased 11 percent, liquor 7.7 percent, beer 5 percent, and wine was down 4.1 percent. Seems like people in Ireland need to be doing a bit of patriotic pint raising in their own pubs.