The Eat Out to Help Out initiative, warm weather and staycations combined last week to give drinks sales their best year-on-year performance since hospitality reopened.
CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker for the seven days to last Saturday (15 August) shows that total on-trade drinks sales by value were down 16% on the same week in 2019. That is an improvement of nine percentage points on the previous seven days, when sales were down 25%. Pubs, where drinks sales were down just 11%, outpaced restaurants (down 23%)—but the figures were by far the strongest for both since the trade started to reopen on 4 July.
CGA’s data has already shown the impact of the Eat Out to Help Out initiative on soft drinks, and their sales continued to rise last week, sitting 8% up on the same week in 2019. Sales were running at close to double the levels of 2019 over Monday to Wednesday, when the Eat Out to Help Out was available.
In other categories, cider benefited from the warm weather, with sales up by 4% year-on-year. Beer (down 16%) continued to outperform wine (down 25%) and spirits (down 34%), reflecting the change in drinking-out occasions since pubs, bars and restaurants reopened.
The strong week for drinks was heavily weighted to the days of the Eat Out of Help Out scheme, with year-on-year sales up 34% on Monday, 23% on Tuesday and 25% on Wednesday. But with some consumers switching the days of their meals out to take advantage of the deal, sales were well down on Thursday (-33%), Friday (-23%) and Saturday (-36%).
The popularity of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme may also have prompted more operators to reopen. CGA’s Outlet Index data shows that just over three quarters (78%) of Britain’s licensed premises are now trading again—up by seven percentage points week-on-week. Pubs (90%) are running well ahead of restaurants (73%) and bars (64%) on the reopening curve, though the gap is closing. Nearly nine in ten (87%) sites in the managed sector are now back, compared to 71% of independently run venues. The number of sites trading in Wales (74%) and Scotland (72%) rose sharply, but London (74%) continues to lag slightly behind the national average.
Footfall data from Wireless Social meanwhile suggests that Eat Out to Help Out could be encouraging more visits to town and city centres. Its sample of more than 1,000 locations revealed that weekly footfall was 55% down on the weekly average in February —the lowest deficit since the start of lockdown.
These figures provide more proof of the huge boost to trade from the Eat Out to Help Out scheme,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s Director of Client Services. “Along with the heatwave and the higher than usual number of people holidaying at home, it has made August a better than expected month of revival for many operators. With some consumers changing their days and nights out to take advantage of the Eat Out to Help Out offer, the resurgence has been slower in the second half of the week—but as consumer confidence about safety grows, weekends will hopefully gather momentum too.”
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