Drinks sales dip again as cost crisis mounts

After a flurry of late-summer trading, Britain’s drinks sales have dropped back below the levels of recent years in early September.

CGA by NielsenIQ’s latest Drinks Recovery Tracker shows average sales in managed venues in the seven days to Saturday (10 September) were 4% down on the same week in 2021, and 3% behind the pre-COVID-19 levels of September 2019. After adjusting for inflation, the year-on-year gap in sales is much wider in real terms.


Trading suffered by comparison with warm weather in the equivalent week in 2021, dropping 19% and 12% behind on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sales rallied on Thursday at 9% up, but fell back to finish flat on Friday and 3% down on Saturday.


The spirits category also struggled to match the highs of September 2021, when many consumers were celebrating the full return of pubs and bars with cocktails and shots. Spirit sales were 17% down last week, with cider and soft drinks also in the red at 4% down, and wine sales flat. As in the previous week, the beer category provided a bright spot, with sales 3% ahead of September 2021.


“The Bank Holiday weekend helped the drinks market end the summer on a high, but these September figures may be setting the tone for a challenging autumn,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “Consumers are fearing significant reductions in disposable income, and even at venues beating last year’s trading, high levels of inflation and increased costs are restraining real terms growth. However, with government support for consumers and businesses announced last week and hopefully more on the way, it will be interesting to see how trends in the tracker take shape over the coming weeks.”


CGA by NielsenIQ’s Drinks Recovery Tracker monitors managed outlet 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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