Take-home lager sales during this year's World Cup were higher than any other sporting event, the Millennium or Christmas, according to recent trading figures, but fears of further price cuts continue.

Research by ACNielsen confirmed that during the four-weeks ending 1 July 2006, total take-home beer sales peaked at £330m compared to about £300m for the Euro 2004 tournament. By volume, off-trade lager purchases reached 4.9 million litres in the week ending 10 June, when England played Paraguay. This compared with 3.1 million litres for the same week in 2005.

The impulse sector also fared well, recording sales 16% higher than during Euro 2004. Research showed that large packs of 18 cans or more achieved sales growth of 340% in impulse.

Carlsberg marketing director Darran Britton said: "We saw a major opportunity for Carlsberg in the impulse sector and took advantage by ensuring our customers were best placed to maximise their sales." Carlsberg saw sales increases of 40% through impulse channels in the four weeks to 1 July 2006, compared with the same period in 2005, according to ACNielsen.

But Budvar UK's off-trade controller Jon Whittle predicts a deepening price crisis following the aggressive promotional activity by the big brands and supermarkets.

"World Cup promotions have become their poisoned chalice," he said. "They will sound as though they've had all their Christmasses at once - and in a way they will have done - because they've set the prices for Christmas with slab trading."

Whittle said the event's beer sales had been over-hyped, and this would aggravate the up-coming Christmas sell-in by encouraging even more over-production and under-pricing.

Ged Lowry, take home controller Carlsberg UK, said: "There is no precedent to suggest take-home beer will not continue to grow the Christmas after a major tournament. Christmas sales were higher than those during Euro 2004."