It's Friday lunchtime, so some of you may already be looking forward to that first after-work beer. And if you've indulged similarly over the last three months, congratulations: you helped beer sales enjoy their first year-on-year rise in over four years. Although judging by today's figures, courtesy of the UK Quarterly Beer Barometer, you may have bought it from the supermarket and drunk it in the park rather than ordering it in a bar...
The hot summer weather obviously contributed to the surprise boost in overall beer sales: a whopping 2.2bn pints were sold during the quarter, which is 63m more than the same period last year (and 625m more than the first quarter). But the World Cup is also being given some of the credit - despite the fact that England were knocked out almost before we had time to finish our first pint. Imagine what this number would have looked like if we'd beaten Germany and made it all the way to the final (OK, that's quite a stretch, we accept).
That's the good news. The bad news, at least as far as the leisure sector as a whole is concerned, is that the benefits of this extra beer-drinking were not felt across the board. Supermarkets saw their sales rise by 4.4%, as people stocked up their fridges for house parties. But beer sales in pubs plunged 6.3% - not exactly what our ailing alehouses needed.
The British Beer and Pub Association is (rather optimistically) now calling on the Government to freeze the tax on beer and offer more support to pubs, to recognise their vital role in communities (flying the flag, as they do, for that inalienable British human right to drink ten pints of lager on Friday night). But at the very least, they want people to start supporting the nation's pubs. So if you do head down to your local after work tonight, take pride: you're doing your bit for a great British industry. It's virtually altruism, in fact.
In today's bulletin:
It never rains, but it pours (ash) for BA
Foreigners sell British energy assets to other foreigners
Fairytale ending for Miramax as it's snapped up by VC firm
We'll drink to that - beer sales up for the first time since 2006
Will scrapping the DRA mean more red tape for SMEs?