Figures from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) showed an average of 8.4 litres of pure alcohol consumed per head last year, down from 8.9 litres.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: ‘These figures will confound many pundits, as yet again they confirm that as a nation, we are not drinking more. Those who suggest otherwise need to focus on the hard facts.’
She added: ‘Policy makers should take note.’
Figures published last week by the North West Public Health Observatory show a 9.5% rise in the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in the year ending March 2009.
On Thursday Scottish ministers announced plans for a 45p minimum price per unit of alcohol.