Combined shipments of beer and “happoshu,” its low-malt relative, dropped 9.9 percent in August, marking the fourth straight year-on-year decline, according to data released Wednesday by Japan’s top five brewers.

Beer and happoshu shipments by Kirin Brewery Co., Asahi Breweries Ltd., Sapporo Holdings Ltd., Suntory Ltd. and Orion Breweries Ltd. totaled 592,460 kiloliters in the reporting month.

The shipments were the lowest for any August since 1993, when the sector was hit by unusually cool weather, similar to this year’s summer.

The beer industry began compiling statistics under the current method in 1992.

The weather factor, coupled with the May 1 tax hike on happoshu products, dealt a severe blow to the industry’s high-season sales.

Combined beer and happoshu shipments in the June-August period fell 11 percent from the same period last year.

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