Restrictions Push Drinks Sales 28% Below 2019

On Premise drinks sales are still running more than a quarter below pre-COVID levels, with trading restrictions outweighing any boost from the Euros—though England’s game with Germany provided a welcome lift for some.

CGA’s latest Drinks Recovery Tracker data shows average sales in the week to last Saturday (26 June) were down by 28% on the same week in 2019. It is the third week in a row that the comparison with 2019 has weakened, and follows last week’s drop of 23%.

The pattern of sales followed that of most weeks since hospitality’s reopening, with trade starting well but falling away towards the weekend. With both England and Scotland playing in the Euros, sales on Tuesday (22 June) were 12% up on the equivalent day in 2019. But with a break in fixtures on Thursday and Friday (24 and 25 June), sales dropped steeply by 40% and 42% respectively. While Saturday was boosted by the Wales v Denmark quarter-final, Britain-wide trading was down 32%.

It suggests that table service, social distancing and limits on group sizes are all having a major impact on weekends, when drinks sales would normally be lifted by high tempo and socialising occasions. Concerns about rising COVID infections may also be prompting some consumers to choose quieter days and dayparts for drinking out.

The Drinks Recovery Tracker showed pubs (down 25% on 2019) again performed better than restaurants (down 32%) and bars (down 48%)—thanks in part to the lift in sales for venues screening Euros matches. Wine (down 17%) had a slightly better week than previously, running ahead of soft drinks (down 23%), beer (down 26%) and cider (down 42%). Spirits continue to suffer from the absence of group occasions, with sales down 37%.

Since the end of last week, drinks sales got a brief but much-needed boost from England’s 2-0 win over Germany at the Euros on Tuesday (29 June). Sales in English outlets showing the game that day were up by 56% on the equivalent day in 2019, and another lift can be expected for England’s quarter-final against Ukraine on Saturday (3 July).

While the Euros have been good news for some pubs—especially as England goes deeper into the tournament—they have been nowhere near enough to haul drinks sales back to pre-COVID levels,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “A full recovery is impossible for drinking-out operators and suppliers under the current trading limits, and it is absolutely essential that restrictions are eased as scheduled on 19 July.”