AlcoholFood and DrinkNews

Drinks Sales Dip again and Festive Fears Mount

Britain’s On-Premise drinks sales have fallen well short of pre-pandemic levels for the second week in a row, with more drops inevitable after the introduction of new COVID-19 measures.

Average sales by value in Britain’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants in the week to last Saturday (4 December) were 14% down on the same week in 2019, CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker shows. It follows a 12% drop in the previous seven days.

For the second week in a row, stormy weather dented the drinking-out market. Concerns around the Omicron variant meanwhile hit consumer confidence, and with more restrictions announced this week—including COVID-19 passes for nightclubs and large venues and instructions to work from home—sales are likely to dip further in the run-in to Christmas.

Drinks sales were between 6% and 15% down on 2019’s levels on every day of last week, with the shortfall peaking on Friday and Saturday (3 and 4 December)—a sign that celebratory and high-tempo occasions are going to be particularly vulnerable this Christmas.

The spirits category once again outpaced the drinks market as a whole, with their sales only 3% below the same week in 2019. Beer and cider (both down 17%), wine (down 20%) and soft drinks (down 14%) were all substantially down.

These numbers show it has been a very tough start to December for the drinking-out sector,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “New COVID-19 restrictions have come at the worst possible time, and are particularly bad news for nightclubs and large venues in Britain’s town and city centres. On top of rising costs and supply issues, they are going to cause severe problems for hospitality well into 2022, and businesses deserve sustained government support on rates, VAT and more to help them get through an extremely difficult period.”