Drinks sales down on tough comparatives but hopes rise for happy Christmas

On Premise drinks sales were down by 5% year-on-year in the week to last Saturday (25 November)—but there are grounds for cautious optimism as the run-in to Christmas begins.

CGA by NIQ’s latest Daily Drinks Tracker shows trading suffered by comparison to late November 2022, which brought the start of the football World Cup. This kept sales on Monday and Friday (20 and 24 November) substantially below the equivalent days last year, when England played their first two matches in the tournament.  


However, average drinks sales in managed venues were in healthy year-on-year growth on each of the other five days of last week. The biggest positive came on Saturday (25 November), when sales finished 13% ahead year-on-year—well above inflation and a sign that Christmas celebrations are getting underway. 


Category-wise, wine continued its welcome revival this year, with sales 8% ahead of the same week in 2022. Beer (down 5%) and cider (down 7%) suffered from the tough year-on-year comparatives, and the spirits category (down 12%) continued a very challenging 2023. Sales of soft drinks were 0.6% up. 


“Last year’s World Cup makes it difficult to gauge the mood of the market as we move into December,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA by NIQ’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “However, bumper Saturday sales suggest people are ready to enjoy pubs and bars over the festive season, and the run of dry weather gives them more encouragement to head out. The agreement from RMT members to hold of on further rail strikes until at least next spring also increases optimism for the festive period, but operators and suppliers will be hoping that Aslef follows suit before they can be fully confident about Christmas trading. 


The Daily Drinks Tracker provides analysis of sales at managed licensed premises across Britain and is part of CGA by NIQ’s suite of research services delivering in-depth data on category, supplier and brand rate of sale performance. To learn more, click here and email jonathan.jones@nielseniq.com. 

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