The 10pm curfew contributed to another drop in out-of-home drink and food sales last week, with spirits hit hardest by the ban on late-night visits.
CGA’s latest Drinks Recovery Tracker shows that total drinks sales in the seven days to last Saturday (3 October) were 37% lower than the same week in 2019. After a steady rise in sales over August, it means trading is now back to July levels, when operators and consumers were tentatively emerging from lockdown.
The early closure of pubs and bars led to a 50% drop in year-on-year spirits sales across the week, the Tracker shows. With many drinkers avoiding crowded late-night and up-tempo occasions, spirits sales have lagged other categories ever since the end of lockdown. But they fell further behind beer, cider, wine and soft drinks last week, sales of which were all down between 31% and 35% year-on-year.
For the second successive week, weekend trading was hit hardest, with total drinks sales down 47% on both Friday and Saturday. Monday (down 23%) and Tuesday (down 19%) were the best performing days.
A tough September for pubs and bars ended with another sharp drop in drinks sales, and the pause on late-night drinking has had an immediate impact on spirits,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s director of client services. “After news of even tougher restrictions in Scotland, and more measures in areas of England likely to follow, there is little sign of recovery. The need for new and sustained government support for the on-trade is becoming more urgent by the day.”
Food sales were slightly stronger over the week. Ongoing early-week promotions by many restaurants and pubs meant sales were down by only 3% to 8% from last Monday to Wednesday (28 to 30 September). But they fell away sharply later in the week, and sat 25% to 33% down year-year from Thursday to Sunday (1 to 4 October).
If there’s a positive in this latest data, it’s that some consumers seem to have continued the August habit of eating and drinking out across the week, rather than saving trips for the weekend—perhaps to avoid busy periods,” says Jonathan Jones. “But there’s no doubt that consumer confidence and spending are extremely fragile at the moment.”
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