Drinks sales in the On Premise fell well below pre-pandemic levels last week after Storm Arwen battered trading.
CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker shows average sales by value in Britain’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants in the week to last Saturday (27 November) were 12% down on the same week in 2019. Friday and Saturday were the toughest days, with sales down 19% and 13% respectively as stormy weather blew in to many parts of the UK.
Sales were between 4% and 11% short of 2019’s levels on every other day of last week, as trading also became affected by breaking news of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Fears of the new variant, rising infection rates and speculation about potential restrictions on socialising may all have dented consumer confidence—just as Christmas celebrations in pubs, bars and restaurants were due to start getting underway.
Disruption to weekend trading hit the spirits category particularly hard, and their sales were 2% down on the same week in 2019. It was the first time that spirits trading has been in the red since August, though it was still the strongest drinks category, with beer (down 15%), cider (down 16%), wine (down 17%) and soft drinks (down 11%) all lagging pre-COVID levels.
“Bad weather often interrupts drinks sales in the winter months, but the Omicron variant is a much bigger concern in the short-term,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “Pubs, bars and restaurants face an anxious wait to see its impact on the Christmas party season, and all operators and suppliers will be hoping that hospitality can escape restrictions over the most important few weeks of trading of the year.”