Drinkers toast the return of hospitality in Northern Ireland

Restaurants, Guinness and spirits have been among the category winners in the early days of the reopening of hospitality in Northern Ireland, according to CGA research.

On Premise drinks sales in May—which included just over three weeks of outside-only service and seven days of indoor trading—were little over half the levels of the same day in 2019, demonstrating the limitations of service that have faced pubs, bars and restaurants throughout the COVID-19 crisis. 

 

However, some parts of the market have fared better than others. Restaurants’ share of drinks sales in May was up by two percentage points on the same month in 2019, suggesting that some consumers were prioritising food-led occasions as the market reopened.  

 

Within the drinks market, spirits’ share of sales was four percentage points up on May 2019, thanks in part to many drinkers toasting the return of pubs and bars with cocktails and shots. Stout—a category dominated by Guinness—gained three percentage points year-on-year, as consumers sought the draught experiences they had missed during the closure of the On Premise.  

 

“Consumers have been eager to get back to pubs, bars and restaurants in Northern Ireland, and the early sales trends suggest they have been in celebratory mood,” says Sian Brennan, CGA’s client director, Ireland. “In line with experiences in Britain and other countries, drinking-out can be expected to gradually settle back towards pre-COVID-19 patterns, but some of the changes in consumers’ behaviour are going to be long lasting. All drinks suppliers and operators will have to stay right on top of these evolving habits if they are to optimise range and price and make the most of the opportunities as the market recovers.” 

 

All data is taken from CGA’s On Premise Measurement service, which together with in-depth consumer research is helping to show drinks sales trends as the market reopens in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. For more about CGA’s services for suppliers and operators in Ireland, please visit here or email Sian Brennan at sian.brennan@cgastrategy.com. 

 

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