Three quarters of spending on the first day of hospitality’s reopening went on drinks, with consumers treating themselves to premium beers, cocktails and spirits after several months away.

CGA’s data shows that drinks enjoyed a 75% share of sales by value on Monday (12 April)—21 percentage points higher than the 54% share they took on the equivalent day in 2019.

Beer, cider and other long alcoholic drinks took a 61% slice of drinks sales—slightly ahead of a 58% share back in April 2019. World lager grew its share of draught lager sales from 31% to 44% to make it the category with the sharpest upswing, at the expense of standard lager, whose share dipped from 41% to 26%. This echoes recent CGA consumer research indicating that many people will be happy to spend on premium products on their return to venues.

The sprits category drew 16% of all drinks sales, nearly double its 9% share in April 2019, as many drinks celebrated the return of pubs, bars and restaurants with cocktails or shots. Gin’s share of spirits sales was 12 percentage points down, but tequila’s was four up. It chimes with a couple of CGA’s pre-opening predictions for spirits: that people who have been drinking gin and tonics over lockdown might seek something different when they go out; and that tequila could be set for significant growth in the On Premise.

Elsewhere in the drinks sector, cocktails took a 7% share of sales on Monday, compared to 4% on the equivalent day in 2019. Non-cream liquors trebled their share of spirits sales from 8% to 23% thanks to the widespread interest in cocktails. With many people focused on celebrating the return of venues, soft drinks’ share fell back from 15% to just 5%.

After so long without drinking out, consumers were clearly ready to celebrate and treat themselves on Monday,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “As more normal visiting patterns resume and inside trading returns, we can expect splits of drinks sales to settle back nearer towards pre-lockdown levels, but some important differences in preferences are sure to settle for the long term. Understanding how the pandemic has changed people’s habits, and adapting range and price to suit both enthusiastic and more cautious drinkers, will be vital as operators and suppliers establish the new normal of drinking out.”