Drinks sales pull close to pre-COVID-19 levels

The easing of COVID-19 restrictions has hauled drinks sales a step closer to pre-pandemic norms, CGA’s latest Drinks Recovery Tracker shows.

In the week to last Saturday (5 February), average drinks sales by value in Britain’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants were just 3% below the equivalent period in 2020. It builds on a steady recovery since the start of the year, when drinks sales were down by 25% on 2020 in the first week.


Last week brought notable uplifts in sales in Scotland and Wales, where the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions has lagged behind England. Scotland’s sales were down 8% on the same week in 2020, though this is a major improvement on the 17% drop over the previous seven days. Sales in Wales sat 3% ahead of 2020, as drinkers embraced the removal of some COVID-19 constraints.


Across Britain, trading peaked on Saturday, when drinks sales were 2% higher than on the same day in 2020. Trading was given a welcome lift by the start of the Six Nations rugby tournament, which saw England, Scotland and Wales all playing on Saturday.


Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland

“It’s very encouraging to see drinks sales approaching parity with trading before the pandemic,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “With consumer confidence growing and the removal of remaining COVID-19 restrictions now looming, venues can hope for a revival as we head towards Spring—though with costs soaring for businesses and consumers alike, there is still a long road to recovery ahead.”


As it has ever since the end of the UK’s first lockdown, the spirits category flourished last week. Its sales were 16% higher than in the same week in 2020, and they shot up by as much as 49% on Sunday (30 January). Other drinks categories remained below pre-COVID-19 levels, but picked up week-on-week. Beer (down 7%), cider (down 8%), soft drinks (down 6%) and wine (down 14%) are all now moving closer to levels of early 2020.


CGA’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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