Bumper Monday Helps Drinks End August On A High

The Bank Holiday and final day of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme helped to deliver the best drinks sales since lockdown last week, CGA’s latest Drinks Recovery Tracker shows.

In the seven days to last Saturday (5 September), drinks sales were just 10% down on the equivalent week in 2019. Monday (31 August) delivered a double whammy of a Bank Holiday and a last-minute rush to take advantage of the Eat Out to Help Out discount, and sales were up by 86% year-on-year as a result.

With the government’s subsidised offer at an end, drinks sales tailed off on Tuesday and Wednesday (1 and 2 September), when they dropped 8% and 17%. But while year-on-year sales were down 24% to 27% on each of Thursday, Friday and Saturday (3, 4 and 5 September), that marked an improvement on the previous seven days—a hint that August’s sales momentum might tip over into the autumn.

As they have ever since the end of lockdown, pubs outperformed restaurants, with their drinks sales down 6% and 17% respectively. Eat Out to Help Out made soft drinks the big winner: their sales were up by 5% year-on-year, and by a mammoth 158% on Monday.

The busy Bank Holiday Monday gave more key categories their best week of sales since the sector reopened in early July, including wine (down 8%), beer (down 13%) and spirits (down 12%).

While these comparative figures are slightly distorted by the Bank Holiday weekend, they show how a month of recovery ended with a bang,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s Director of Client Services. “Now that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme and school holidays have both ended, we can expect something of a hangover in the weeks ahead, and the new restrictions on gatherings present a further challenge for pubs in particular. But while the road back to normality is going to be long and bumpy, August gave us a welcome reminder that consumers’ appetite for drinking-out remains high.”

Data from Wireless Social meanwhile shows that many town and city centres continue to struggle to attract visitors, with footfall in the seven days to Saturday (5 September) down by 44% on the weekly average in February.