Drinks sales shed £1.3bn after lockdown

Drinks sales were cut nearly in half in July and early August, CGA’s new On-Trade Market Recovery Update reveals.

Well over £1bn of sales were lost in the out-of-home drinks sector in just four weeks after the end of lockdown, CGA’s new On-Trade Market Recovery Update reveals.

Between 12 July and 8 August, CGA’s On Premise Measurement Service recorded total sales of £1.29bn—a cut of nearly half from £2.49bn in the same period in 2019. Sales were limited by ongoing closures of pubs, bars and restaurants, with an average of 30% of the country’s licensed premises not trading over the four-week period.

Beer sales were wiped by £616m year-on-year while the spirits category, which has struggled to recover sales ever since the end of lockdown, saw sales plunge £254m. Soft drinks and wine accounted for 18% and 14% of losses respectively.

The picture was slightly brighter on a per-outlet basis, where sales were down by a quarter (26%)—from an average of £5,633 per outlet per week last year to £4,172 in 2020.

CGA’s weekly Drinks Recovery Tracker has shown the challenges that operators have faced in bringing people back out to drink, despite the popularity of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Pubs account for 42% of the losses, though they have been quicker to return since lockdown and have outpaced restaurants for sales in recent weeks. The Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners shows that by the end of August, nine in ten food pubs (94%) and community pubs (89%) were trading again—more than casual dining restaurants (84%) and the all-premises total (76%).

Conditions have become even more challenging since the end of Eat Out to Help Out, and new limits on social gatherings, 10pm curfews and ongoing social distancing are all likely to lead to more big sales losses in the months ahead.

CGA’s On-Trade Market Recovery Update provides many more insights into drinks sales in the crucial four-week period. The full data and analysis is available from CGA now.

Jonathan Jones, CGA’s Director of Client Services, says: “With well over £1bn of sales lost in just four weeks, this research shows just how tough it was for out-of-home drinking operators after lockdown. While there were some positive trends in the market, and in the pub sector in particular, conditions were the hardest we have ever known. All the new restrictions and ongoing anxiety around COVID-19 mean many more difficult weeks lie ahead.”

To learn how CGA’s latest drinks data and expert analysis can help operators and suppliers optimise sales and marketing strategies, please email drinks@cga.co.uk.

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