A new survey has revealed that alcohol-free beer is increasingly socially acceptable.

The findings are the result of a ComRes survey, commissioned by AB Inbev, which showed 43% of British adults had tried alcohol-free beer and nearly half (49%) thought is was more socially acceptable than five years ago.

The results highlight the growing recognition of alcohol-free beer as an option at home and on a night out. This is backed up by industry data showing significant growth in sales – 8.4% – during 2013-14.

However, when talking to shop owners across the country, Retail Express failed to find any proof of this. Linda Williams, who owns Broadway convenience store in Edinburgh laughed at the idea. “You must be joking,” she said. “Alcohol-free beer is a non-starter. I only ever stock one six-pack of Bavaria non-alcoholic beer for a special customer, other than that it doesn’t sell.”

Mr Madher, who owns Anglesey Road News & Off Licence in Burton-on-Trent, agreed. “I’ve never sold non-alcoholic beer,” he said.

“It just doesn’t have any buyers in the convenience sector.”

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