Bank Holiday lifts drinks sales into growth

The Bank Holiday weekend, sunshine and staycations combined to lift drinks sales into growth on pre-COVID-19 levels for the first time in 2021 last week.

Average drinks sales by value in the seven days to last Saturday (4 September) were up by 5% on the same week in 2019, CGA’s latest Drinks Recovery Tracker shows. The figure is skewed by the absence of Bank Holiday trading in the comparative period, but nevertheless marks a welcome milestone in the On Premise’s recovery from the pandemic.

 

CGA’s Tracker data has shown that weekly drinks sales have been down on 2019 every week since hospitality reopened from mid-April, but the return to growth raises hopes of a strong end to the year for pubs, bars and restaurants.

 

 

Sales on the Sunday and Monday (29 and 30 August) of the Bank Holiday weekend were up by 48% and 53% respectively on the equivalent days in 2019, as consumers made the most of the break. However, trading then suffered something of a hangover, with daily sales down by between 8% and 11% from Tuesday to Friday, before rebounding well to just 2% down on Saturday. Cooler weather and end of the summer holidays held midweek sales down, but the shortfalls with 2019 sales are generally narrowing as consumers become more confident about drinking out.

 

Spirits sales continued their renaissance last week, with sales soaring by 39% on 2019 thanks to Bank Holiday revelry—and by as much as 250% on Bank Holiday Sunday. Soft drinks (up 9%) were also in growth, though beer (down 7%), cider (down 6%) and wine (down 6%) were all in negative territory.

 

This week’s burst of heat in many areas should give another boost to drinks sales, and it will be interesting to see how trading settles down in September as schools return and conditions continue to return towards pre-pandemic norms.

It’s important to note that these figures are inflated by the Bank Holiday weekend, and we’re not anticipating consistent 2021 v 2019 growth for a while yet,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “However, the general trend is positive, and August will hopefully be a springboard for operators and suppliers into a strong autumn and Christmas. Considering all the upheaval of COVID-19 and all the current labour, supply and cost challenges, many drinking-out businesses are showing impressive resilience.”

 

CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker service will continue to monitor sales as the drinking-out market continues to recover, providing category, supplier and brand rate of sale performance versus pre-COVID-19 sales. Suppliers and operators that want to track the recovery of drinks sales, benchmark performance or identify changes in trends and consumer preferences should contact jonathan.jones@cgastrategy.com.

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