Britons drank almost one million fewer bottles of Champagne last year than they did in 2010, in the latest sign that consumers are cutting back on the finer things in life to save money.
According to official figures from the Champagne industry, just over 34.5 million bottles of the drink were shipped to the UK from France last year. This is a fall of 955,000 bottles compared to the previous year.The figures shows a steep decline in Champagne consumption from the pre-recession days of 2007, when a record 39 million bottles were shipped to the UK. Declining City bonuses and falling household incomes have meant that consumers have cut back on discretionary spending, of which Champagne is the ultimate example. Other expensive products have also suffered over the downturn. Sales of costly organic food and drink fell by 3.7 per cent in the UK last year, according to the Soil Association, as supermarkets replaced them with cheaper own-label products. Meanwhile visits to restaurants fell by 10 per cent in 2011 as cash-strapped consumers tried to save money. Despite the fall in Champagne shipments, the UK remains the biggest market in the world for the drink outside of France, according to the Champagne Bureau, which is a body set up by the French government to represent the interests of the industry.