GB’s On Trade Hopes For Christmas Cheer With Consumer Spend Exceeding £0.5bn

While consumer confidence is currently uncertain, Christmas out of home food and drink sales are still likely to echo those of 2016 when fewer people went out but those that did went out more often and spent more.

Pub, restaurant and bar operators across Great Britain may face an uncertain trading environment this Christmas but consumers are still likely to spend an additional £562m** on drinks out-of-home with some 211 million visits expected to be made to pubs, bars, and restaurants over the festive period, according to statistics from CGA.

Despite fewer people visiting the on-trade over Christmas 2016 (down -4%) those consumers that did, went out more often and spent more money. Sales lifts were primarily in drinks, with value of sales rising 4.4% on the previous year, while the value of dry sales dropped slightly by 0.7%.

Drinks sales accounted for 55% of the total sales mix through the on-trade [pubs, bars and restaurants] during Christmas 2016, a one percentage point rise over its share of sales in 2015. Food sales accounted for 45%, down one percentage point on the previous year.

“Last year consumer confidence was muted pre-Brexit. This year consumer confidence is still shaky so it’s unclear if consumers will rein-in spending or want to treat themselves,” commented Phillip Montgomery, CGA client director (drinks).

“However, Christmas is a crucial time for operators who need to make sure they are making the most of footfall throughout December by encouraging customers to trade-up with special promotions, new products and exciting, tempting offers.”

CGA statistics show that operators who attract a festive crowd benefit from a higher consumer spend. Average spend on a celebratory occasion was £56.02 over Christmas 2016, compared with £44.70 on an average social occasion during December.

Some 9.3 million people out celebrating last Christmas (47%) tried something new when they went out with hot alcoholic drinks, sparkling wine, cocktails and Champagne amongst the favourite choices.

Spirits remain the favourite Christmas tipple – accounting for 18.9% of total serves, an increase of nearly 4% against an average four-week period. Vodka, dark rum, blended whisky, gin, tequila and non-cream liqueurs see the biggest trade-up.

Over a third of people (36%) were willing to pay extra for a better quality drink than they’d normally choose, influenced by wanting a treat (57%), friends (32%), and recommendations from bar staff (24%).

“For operators Christmas is an opportunity to leverage sales through their premium offer and suppliers should help with ranging decisions. It’s also essential to have engaging bar staff and good POS material promoting your offers – our research showed that 57% of consumers noticed outlet promotions, so it’s important to plan early and promote your offer clearly and effectively,” added Montgomery.