Big events drive sales up as celebratory consumers return to U.S. bars and restaurants

Fresh research from CGA highlights the growing popularity of the On Premise on public holidays, and the potential for operator-supplier collaboration.

Uplift in sales driven by consumers celebrating Mother’s Day in the On Premise 

New research from leading analysts CGA reveals the big uplift in On Premise visits on major US events and celebrations in May—and the opportunities for operators and beverage suppliers to collaborate and maximize sales.  


CGA data shows that more than a third (34.4%) of adults visited bars, restaurants or similar outlets for Mother’s Day on 9 May. Nearly a quarter (22.7%) went to the On Premise to mark Cinco de Mayo on 5 May, and 14.0% did so for the Kentucky Derby on 1 May—more than twice the number who did so for the 2019 Derby (6.0%).  


These visits led to a significant increase in spending, CGA’s research indicates. More than two in five consumers say they spent more on visits for Cinco de Mayo (47.6%), the Kentucky Derby (53.1%) and Mother’s Day (43.2%) than they usually would, with no more than 5.6% spending less on any of the occasions. CGA’s CLIP data shows a 67% and 9% uplift in the value of sales on Mother’s Day and Cinco de Mayo respectively, though sales on Kentucky Derby day were flat.  


CGA’s data also reveals: 

  • Local restaurants, neighborhood bars and casual dining chains were the three most popular destinations for the occasions 
  • Beer was the top selling beverage around the Kentucky Derby, while wine was most popular on Mother’s Day and tequila ranked second on Cinco de Mayo 
  • On all occasions, young adults were more likely to increase their spend than older consumers.  


As COVID-19 restrictions ease, seating capacity increases and vaccines continue to roll out, many consumers are likely to be in celebratory mood and eager to mark big events. Forthcoming opportunities include Memorial Day on 31 May, Father’s Day on 20 June and Labor Day on 6 September. CGA’s CLIP data from 2019 shows that Father’s Day generated a 54% increase in sales by value, while Labor Day and Memorial Day recorded 27% and 15% growth respectively. Independence Day on 4 July had little impact on sales in 2019. 


Operator & supplier opportunities to capture pent-up demand 

CGA’s consumer research has signs that sizeable numbers will be looking to the On Premise to mark events like these in 2021. Nearly a fifth of consumers are planning to celebrate Independence Day (18.4%) and Memorial Day (18.0%) in bars or restaurants, and nearly a quarter (23.5%) of Labor Day celebrants plan to do so. Between 14% and 16% of those marking the occasions will do so on vacation, during which they may be likely to visit bars and restaurants.  


After months of restrictions, many consumers are ready to celebrate US public holidays and events in a big way in 2021,” said Alexandra Martinoperator and analytics director at CGA. “On Premise operators and beverage brands have a great opportunity to capitalize on pent-up demand and position themselves at the heart of big occasions. To do so, they will need a deep understanding of consumers’ habits and preferences on elements like locations and beverages, which can vary substantially from occasion to occasion and place to place.” 


CGA’s consumer research reveals what restaurant and bar operators and beverage suppliers can do to increase the appeal of the On Premise around big events. Two in five (39.9%) consumers say they would be encouraged to visit by special offers on drinks, and more than a quarter would be attracted by drink offers (32.7%), special events (31.6%) or live entertainment (27.0%).  


Alexandra Martin adds: “Our research shows that operators and suppliers have many effective promotional levers to pull on event occasions. It will be crucial to work together on special offers, events and other strategies if they are both to make the most of these exciting opportunities and position themselves as go-to partners for celebrations.” 


For more details of how CGA’s consumer research and On Premise sales data can support the sales and marketing strategies of both operators and suppliers, please contact Matthew Crompton at 

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