Food and drink sales fell back last week following the end of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme and fresh concerns about rising COVID-19 infections. But there are signs that consumers’ appetite for eating and drinking out earlier in the week has continued into the aftermath of the promotion.
CGA’s Volume Pool of 7,000 managed outlets shows that food sales on Monday 7 September were down by 63% on the previous Monday—the last day of Eat Out to Help Out. But with some operators continuing to fund early-week discounts, sales were nevertheless up by 27% on the equivalent day in 2019. The following Tuesday and Wednesday (8 and 9 September) also saw year-on-year increases of 18% and 16%.
The latest edition of CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker meanwhile shows that the value of drinks sales in the seven days to last Saturday (12 September) was 22% lower than in the same week in 2019. It is a widening of the year-on-year deficit from a 10% drop over the previous week.
Echoing the trend in food, consumers appear to be drinking out earlier in the week. Sales on Monday 7 September were up by 1% year-on-year, and only 5% and 8% down on Tuesday and Wednesday (8 and 9 September).
As in previous weeks, year-on-year trading was weaker later in the week. Food sales were down by between 16% and 24% on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (10 to 12 September), and drinks sales were down by between 25% and 35%.
The Drinks Recovery Tracker shows that pubs (down 18%) outperformed restaurants (down 34%) on drinks sales across the week—continuing a trend that has been evident ever since hospitality reopened in early July. Category wise, soft drinks (down 16%) fared better than beer, cider and wine (all down between 20% and 22%).
Eat Out to Help Out was a huge stimulus to the on-trade in August, and while sales have inevitably eased in September, it created welcome momentum in people’s eating and drinking out,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s Director of Client Services. “However, with new restrictions on socialising starting this week, and mounting concerns about infection rates and local lockdowns, the sector faces a big challenge to preserve guests’ optimism about safety and spending in the second half of September.”