Drinks Sales Back in the Black — Just

Britain’s On Premise drinks sales edged back into growth on pre-COVID-19 levels last week, CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker shows.

It indicates that average sales by value in managed pubs, bars and restaurants in the seven days to Saturday (23 April) were 1% up on the same week in 2019. This follows four successive weeks of sales hovering two or three percentage points off comparatives. However, with year-on-year inflation currently running at around 7% and margins under severe pressure, real-terms growth in sales and profits remains hard to achieve for many drink-led operators.

CGA’s Tracker shows drinks sales struggled over the Easter period, dropping behind 2019 levels by 9% on Easter Sunday and 6% on Easter Monday—due in part to much cooler weather than three years ago. But trading picked up as the week went on, finishing 9% up on both Tuesday and Wednesday, and 17% up on Thursday. Saturday ran 12% ahead, with pub and bar footfall boosted in the evening by viewers of the boxing match between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte.

“Soaring costs mean the recovery from COVID-19 remains under severe pressure, but this modest growth raises hopes of turning a corner,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “It is particularly pleasing to see such strong midweek trading, and it suggests after-work drinking occasions may be returning as people head back to offices. May is always a crucial month for the On Premise, so we will wait to see if the upward trajectory can continue.”

On a category basis, sales of spirits were up by 8% on the same week in 2019, while beer sales (up 1%) were in growth for only the third time this year. Soft drinks were 2% up, but cider (down 8%) and wine (down 6%) were in the red.