Britons top European drinking league
LONDON, Apr 7 (Reuters) Britons are Europe's top drinkers in bars and restaurants, downing the equivalent of 2.2 pints of lager on each visit last year, according to a report from market watchers Datamonitor today.
Germans and Spaniards drank the equivalent of 1.9 pints, while the Swedes were the most abstemious at 1.5 pints, below the European average of 1.8 pints.
But the data, which covers alcohol consumption outside the home, suggests that levels of public drinking in Britain are falling.
Total bar and restaurant sales of alcohol in Britain fell to 251 million litres last year from 272 million litres in 2000, a reduction of around 8 percent.
''Going out is becoming less and less about drinking, and alcohol consumption is becoming something that people do at home,'' said John Band, Datamonitor analyst and author of the report.
Licensing laws were relaxed in England and Wales last November, with around a third of pubs opting to stay open an hour or so after the traditional 11 pm closing time.
The government hopes the relaxation will reduce the incidence of binge-drinking, with less pressure on pub-goers to drink as much as they can before bars close.
Reuters PG VP0640