Overall sales of alcohol here fell by more than a third during April compared to the same period last year, the drinks industry has claimed.

That is despite data showing a significant increase in the sale of alcohol in supermarkets and other off-licence outlets.

Research carried out for Drinks Ireland by Nielsen found 24 million fewer pints were consumed here during the month, in comparison to a year earlier.

Off-sales of beer and cider rose 58%, but this was more than offset by the fall in consumption in pubs, leading to a 36% overall decline.

60% of beer and cider sales take place in pubs and restaurants, so a decrease in this channel has a disproportionate impact on overall sales.

It was a similar story with spirits where a 13% overall decrease in sales was registered, with 4.9m fewer measures sold in the same period, despite a 24% rise in the volume of off-trade sales.

"There has been a perception that people are drinking more as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, but these figures clearly show that this is not the case, with overall sales down by just under 36%," said Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland.

"With pubs, restaurants and hotels closed and Government restrictions in place, there's been not only a fall in the amount of alcohol consumed, but changes in the way people drink."

Drinks Ireland is concerned about the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions have had on the industry here.

It says the disruption has not only been to the on-trade and supplies to the off-trade, but also to brewery and distillery visitor centres, which attract 3 million people a year.