Drinks sales edge back above pre-COVID-19 levels

On Premise drinks sales in the week to last Saturday (20 November) nudged 1% above the same week in 2019, CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker shows.

It is the first time that average sales by value in Britain’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants have been in positive territory for six weeks, and follows two consecutive drops of 3%. Combined with CGA data showing solid October trading for managed groups and buoyant delivery and takeaway sales, it raises hopes for a good festive period for the On Premise.


Continuing a recent pattern, sales growth in Wales (18%) was much higher than in England, where trading was virtually flat and Scotland, where sales were 2% up on 2019—thanks in part to Wales’ rugby union match against Australia in Cardiff on Saturday (20 November), when sales jumped 42%. Across Britain, Sunday (14 November) was the strongest day of the week with growth of 8%.


Just as they have in most weeks since ‘freedom day’ in July, spirits were the best performing drinks category by some distance. Their sales were 18% up on 2019, while beer (down 3%), cider (down 1%), wine (down 13%) and soft drinks (down 1%) were all in the red.


“After weeks of sales falling just short of pre-pandemic levels, it is pleasing to be reporting growth,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “Pubs, bars and restaurants face a host of operational and cost pressures, and consumer confidence remains fragile, but we can be quietly confident that many people will be ready to spend in the On Premise over Christmas—and more stellar sales figures for spirits suggests that many of them will be doing so with cocktails.”


CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker service 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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