The number of forecourts with an alcohol licence has almost doubled in two years as new research shows that at-home drinking is growing faster than drinking in pubs, cafes, clubs and restaurants,

Consumers spent £10.8bn last year on alcohol to drink at home, according to a new report by market analysts Datamonitor. This is set to rise by 15% to £12.3bn in 2010 - outstripping a predicted growth of 10% in value for the on-trade.

Meanwhile, Arthur Renshaw, UK and Ireland manager at Catalist, says that the number of forecourts selling alcohol has also continued to grow. “It’s been going up dramatically,” he says. “Some of the oil companies have been applying ‘en-block’ for licenses for their sites.”

Catalist’s most recent figures for 2006 show that around 2,100 sites now have a licence to sell alcohol, compared to 1,360 two years ago, but Renshaw says this figure will have already increased.

Chris Mitchener from licensing agents Lockett & Co says alcohol is a now ‘massive opportunity’ for forecourt retailers, and estimates that between 2,200 and 2,250 sites have licenses. He said: “As long as the shop offering is there, the opportunity for forecourts is immense and if the shop offering isn’t there yet, the return from that development has got to be worth considering.”