Euros Lift Some Pubs, But Drinks Sales Still Drag

Average sales in the week to Saturday 19 June were down by 23% on the same period in 2019, CGA’s latest Drinks Recovery Tracker shows. This is a widening of the gap to 2019 from the previous week’s dip of 19%.

The ongoing shortfall in sales shows how COVID-19 restrictions on group sizes and table service are keeping many football fans who would normally drink out on game days away from pubs and bars. The much-anticipated match last Friday (18 June) between England and Scotland had a disappointing result for the On Premise, with drinks sales down 26% on the same day in 2019. They were not much better for England’s game against Croatia on Sunday (13 June), at 11% down.

CGA’s research has shown a decent sales lift in venues screening games, and there was a similar divide between sport and non-sport venues last week, with drinks sales in England up by 4% and down by 25% in the two types respectively.

However, the halo effect that is sometimes seen on big sporting occasions has been missing, and across Britain sales were well down on 2019 levels on every day of the week. Over the seven days of fixtures involving the home nations, average like-for-like venue sales were down by 10% on the comparative period.

Drinks sales in Scotland and Wales got a slightly better boost from their countries’ games. Scotland saw sales rise by 61% on 2019 levels for its game against the Czech Republic on Monday (14 June)—and they soared by 85% in sport venues. Wales had an 18% uplift on Wednesday (16 June), when the country played Turkey, and a 48% hike in sport venues.

The screening of Euro 2020 games on terrestrial channels, coupled with poor weather in many areas last week, added to operators’ challenges in tempting people into pubs, bars and restaurants. Footfall has been stubbornly slow on weekends in particular, and drinks sales on Saturday (19 June) slumped 37% on the pre-COVID comparison.

The Euros created a better week of drinks sales for pubs (down 18%) than restaurants (down 34%) and bars (down 44%). They also made it a stronger period for beer (down 19%) and cider (down 17%) than soft drinks (down 25%), spirits (down 28%) and wine (down 30%).

Trading restrictions and the four-week delay to their easing are clearly limiting drinks sales in the on Premise,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “Rising infection rates may also be dampening consumer confidence at a time when pubs and bars should be packed. More matchdays for England and Wales in the next couple of weeks will provide uplifts, but the ‘freedom day’ planned for 19 July may come too late for venues that desperately needed an injection of sales.”