Tax office figures show devastating drop in pints poured in pubs and clubs

Brewers Association of Australia

Australian Tax Office (ATO) figures for draught beer sales in the first quarter (July-September) of the 2021-22 tax year have shown the true devastating impact of the pandemic on Australia’s hospitality sector.

The figures show that pubs and clubs sold 40 million fewer pints of beer in July-September 2021 than they did for the same period in 2019, before the pandemic hit. That’s a massive drop of over 50 per cent in beer sales for struggling venues.

After a horror year in 2020 where pubs and clubs lost over $1 billion in beer sales due to lockdowns and other restrictions these latest figures from the ATO show that losses for 2021 could well exceed this.

The ATO recorded 903,982 litres of alcohol as having been served in beers over the counter in July-September 2021 compared to 1,993,027 litres during the same period in 2019.

Commenting on the analysis John Preston, Chief Executive of the Brewers Association of Australia, said:

“These figures show that the damage to our pubs and clubs from the pandemic actually worsened last year. On average beer sales are around 70 per cent of alcohol sales volumes in licensed premises and a drop of this severity has hit pubs and clubs incredibly hard.

“We are calling for the Federal Government to use the forthcoming Federal Budget to reduce Australia’s 4th highest beer tax in the world to give pubs and clubs a fighting chance.

“We are very concerned that on 1 February the Australian Government will hit Australian beer drinkers with one of the biggest beer tax increases in more than a decade – it’s not right and it’s not sustainable. Other countries have been reducing their tax on draught beer to give pubs and beer drinkers a break.”

Quotations from hospitality operators on the impact of the pandemic over the summer period as follows:

Sam Tresise, Managing Director of the Commercial Hospitality Group (which owns and operates venues such as the Bells Hotel in South Melbourne, The George Hotel in Ballarat and numerous event spaces such as Main Hall, Topiary, Loggia and Hennessy Lane) said:

“Many pub businesses would have been relying on this summer period to recover from the devastating hit to sales we experienced during lockdowns. The reality is that this hasn’t happened.

“We’ve seen significant numbers of events cancelled as people come down with COVID-19 and our pubs have been forced to close as staff have been unable to work. This is our busiest time of year and the impact of omnicron has been devastating.”

Joel Taylor, owner of the Barwon Heads Hotel, Torquay Hotel and the Grovedale Hotel in Victoria said:

“Boxing Day to Australia Day is our peak season and so far we’ve seen sales down 50-60% from even last year when we were impacted by capacity restrictions.

“Last week we had to close the Barwon Heads hotel for 4 days and the Torquay Hotel for 2 at a time when we would expect to have between 600 and 900 customers through the door every day.”

ATO beer sales figures for 1st Quarter (July to September)






Litres of alcohol






Litres of beer (4.9%)






Pints of beer






/Public Release.