Average drinks sales by value in managed venues were 1% either side of the pre-COVID-19 levels of 2019 on both Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July, as temperatures steadily rose across Britain. The next day (Monday 18 July) they jumped 9% ahead of the same day in 2019, as consumers made the most of the weather by heading to beer gardens and terraces.
CGA’s RISE platform, revealed just over 26,000 sites have beer gardens, patios, terraces, or other external areas used to host guests during the warmer weather, and over two thirds (72%) of pubs have outside space. Outdoor trading can make a big difference to drinks sales, although with consumers spending their time in the sun, sales were impacted due to capacity levels of outdoor spaces.
Sales then fell back 12% on Tuesday 19 July, as temperatures hit record levels and some people opted to stay at home. Sales were further hit by the decision of some operators to close venues because of the extreme heat. They are also affected by sunny comparative days in 2019.
As is usually the case in hot weather, cider sales rocketed, reaching a high of 55% up on 2019 on Monday. Beer and spirit sales were both in double-digit growth on the same day, though soft drinks were down throughout the four-day heatwave. Wine sales were down by between 22% and 35% on each of the four days, continuing a very difficult year for trading in the category.
“Drinks sales typically get a lift when the sun shines, but at times the temperatures have been just too high to lure people out to pubs, bars and restaurants,” said Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland.
“With mounting pressure on consumer spending, the weather may also have tempted some to save money by drinking at home in the garden instead and guarantee that they could enjoy the heatwave outside. Even when the sun shines, it is clear that while some venues flourish, others will continue to find it difficult to generate meaningful sales growth in real terms.”