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UK's beer demand hits Christmas levels over England's World Cup hopes

There’s a massive surge in beer demand on the eve of England’s last-16 clash against Colombia in the Football World Cup on Tuesday. Photograph: Getty

It is not just England football fans who will be eagerly watching Harry Kane and his team on Tuesday night. Publicans and retailers are also hoping that the team beats Colombia to progress through to the next stage of the World Cup as they hope to keep their tills ringing.

One industry source said demand for beer was running at the levels usually seen “in the weeks leading up to Christmas” as sporting events and the hot weather make a perfect combination for drinkers.

The British Beer and Pub Association is predicting that the last-16 match on Tuesday will encourage home fans to buy an extra 6 million pints at the pub – and boost the economy by up to £18bn. The tax for the exchequer could be as high as £2.7m.

“When it comes to watching the World Cup, only being at the game itself can compare with being in a pub. With the England team doing us proud and getting to the knockout stages of the tournament, fans will continue to pack out their local to cheer on the boys,” said Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA.

The BBPA had predicted that England fans would buy an extra 16 million pints watching the matches against Tunisia, Panama and Belgium although the exact outcome will not be known for a few weeks. An indication of the extra drinking, however, was provided last week by Greene King – owner of Hungry Horse, Chef & Brewer and Farmhouse Inns – which sold 500,000 extra pints during England’s game against Panama.

Drinkers are also buying more wine and gin, which even before the World Cup started was breaking records with 55 million bottles sold in the 12 months to the end of March. The data from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said this was £1.5bn of sales – more than double five years ago.

For now, the shortage of carbon dioxide – used to make drinks fizzy and a source of warnings about beer shortages – appears to have been sidelined although meat producers are continuing to sound the alarm about the level of supply.

It just not just alcohol sales that could get a lift from England’s football players. The Bank of England’s agents across the UK  said companies cited the World Cup as not only likely to boost sales of alcoholic drinks but also electronics.

England fans celebrate in a pub. Photograph: Getty

John Lewis has reported sales of wide-screen TVs up 130%, a 94% rise in drinks fridges and even an increase in corner sofas in preparations for World Cup parties. The data is for the week of 11 June.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, has been tracking the outcome for retailers from previous World Cups. In 2010 Sports Direct, the clothing retailer, reported its strongest trading day on record at the time. Four years later,  though, performance was disappointing which Khalaf said was “laid at the door of a poor campaign from the English national side”.

He calculates that book makers – GVC, owners of Ladbroke and Coral, and PaddyPower Betfair – will be hoping for England’s continued success. “A strong showing from England will keep interest and hopes high and the further the national team progresses the more punters are likely to bet with their hearts rather than their heads,” said Khalaf.

Takeaway pizza companies – Just Eat and Domininos – may also get a boost.

To add to the pressure on Kane, the BBPA is already predicting what will happen if England get through to the quarter finals. The match is on Saturday 7 July at 3pm – which the BBPA said is “the perfect time for great British pubs to host the game”. Then there would be a boost of £24m the economy and £3.6bn in taxes for the Chancellor.

Khalaf notes, though, that the effect may not be long lasting. “Some of the companies in the frame to benefit from the World Cup are going through a rough patch, and a few weeks of additional sales aren’t going to be enough to trigger a whole scale turnaround”.

Economists also warn that the impact on retail sales may also be short lived. After retail sales data in May – when the Royal Wedding and unseasonably warm weather were used to explain the higher than expected rise in retail sales to 1.3% – economists said it was more about shoppers bringing forward spending than a long-lasting boost for the high street.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item club,  warns it might be temporary. “A decent England performance could lift retail sales through spending on World Cup merchandise, England replica shirts and on food and drink to enjoy during the matches and provide a temporary boost to consumer confident through a ‘feel good’ factor,” Archer said as the tournament began last month,

One economist watching Kane and his team is Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, who said last week that the team’s success had added to the “feel good factor among England-supporting consumers”. This was one of a number of reasons he voted for the Bank of England to raise interest rates at its most recent meeting last month to 0.75%. Rates remained at 0.5% as he was one of three members of the monetary policy committee to vote for a rise.  The committee meets next in August, when the markets have increased the probability of a rate rise from 60% to 65%.