Last week’s out-of-home drinks sales were 7% up on pre-pandemic levels, CGA’s latest Drinks Recovery Tracker reveals.
The figure—for average drinks sales by value in Britain’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants over the week to last Saturday (12 March), compared to the same week in 2019—marks the best performance of 2022 so far. After several weeks of parity with pre-pandemic levels, it suggests the drinking-out market’s recovery is building momentum. However, with inflation currently running at 6% for the last year alone, sales remain well below pre-pandemic patterns in real terms.
Last week’s trading was boosted by St Patrick’s Day celebrations, with drinks sales on Thursday (17 March) up by 37% on the same day in 2019. The extension of celebrations, plus widespread good weather, kept sales well ahead on both Friday (up 7%) and Saturday (up 11%). Saturday trading was also lifted by rugby fans watching the final round of Six Nations fixtures in pubs and bars. Across the week, spirits sales were 25% up on the same period in 2019, while beer (up 7%) and cider (up 10%) recorded year-high growth as well.
Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland, said: “Last week’s trading figures show the hard work of Britain’s pubs, bars and restaurants to build back from two years of disruption is paying off. They also emphasise the value that good weather and celebratory occasions like St Patrick’s Day can bring to the On Premise, and with more sunshine, Mother’s Day and Easter on the horizon, operators can be cautiously optimistic about trading. However, confirmation this week of high inflation and the end to hospitality’s VAT relief, and mounting pressure on consumers’ disposable incomes, remind us that a return to pre-COVID-19 normality is still some way off.”