Weather Dampens Drinks Sales Over Bank Holiday Weekend

After a solid first fortnight of outside trading, rain and low temperatures created tough conditions for drinks sales last week

CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker has revealed a strong start to sales since venues reopened in mid-April, but the week to last Saturday (1 May) proved much more challenging for pubs, bars and restaurants. Average like-for-like drinks sales were down by 38% on the equivalent week in 2019—nearly twice the deficit of 21% in the previous seven days.

The figures highlight the very close correlation between weather and sales in Britain’s On Premise. While operators in England have at least enjoyed a fortnight of good conditions, the poor weather made it a challenging first week back for Scotland and Wales. Their return helped to create a 2% uptick in sales on Monday (26 April), but sales then dropped away sharply as temperatures fell and rain moved in.

The crucial Bank Holiday weekend was a washout for many operators, and drinks sales on Sunday (2 May) were down by 35% on the same Sunday in 2019. Worst hit of all was Bank Holiday Monday (3 May), when they dipped 66%. Wales bore the brunt of the weather, and takings were 85% down as a result.

Pubs, where drinks sales were down by 33% across the week, continue to outperform restaurants (down 54%) and bars (down 59%), thanks to their greater availability of outdoor trading space.

“The success of outside trading was always going to be very reliant on the British spring weather. While consumers remain eager to eat and drink out, the climate is making it very hard for many to do so at the moment,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “Hospitality has worked very hard and creatively to make outdoor service work, but it won’t be able to properly reboot until venues can welcome guests inside from 17 May—and until then all we can do is hope for some brighter weather.”