Food and drink sales hit by new restrictions

Drink sales were nearly cut in half last weekend after the government imposed strict new coronavirus measures, CGA’s data show.

Drink sales were nearly cut in half last weekend after the government imposed strict new coronavirus measures, CGA’s data show.

The latest Drinks Recovery Tracker reveals that sales began the week positively, with 2% year-on-year growth on Monday (21 September). But the next day’s announcement of measures including 10pm curfews and a return to working from home had an immediate impact on sales, which were down by a third (33%) on Wednesday and by nearly half on Thursday (down 45%), Friday (down 47%) and Saturday (down 46%).

Across the week, the value of drink sales was more than a third (35%) lower than the same week in 2019, and 10 percentage points down on the previous seven days.

Food sales followed a similar trend. CGA’s Volume Pool of 7,000 managed pub and restaurant sites indicates that food sales also began last week well, sitting only 3% and 7% down year-on-year on Monday and Tuesday. But sales then fell between 21% and 29% every day from Wednesday to Sunday. Week-on-week, sales were down on each of the seven days.

The dip means trade has now returned to levels seen in much of July, before the on-trade was boosted by the Eat Out to Help Out promotion. Continuing the trend ever since the end of lockdown, pubs (down 30%) continued to perform better than restaurants on drinks sales in the Volume Pool, who faced their worst week since reopening (down 47%).

The new restrictions, as well as extra lockdown measures in many parts of the country, have impacted all drinks categories. There were sizeable drops in beer (down 32%), wine (down 29%), soft drinks (down 32%), but spirit sales fell by nearly half (down 49%)—reflecting the heavy impact of the curfew on late-night drinking occasions.

This data emphasises the very close correlation between government announcements and consumer confidence in hospitality,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s Director of Client Services. “The recovery that the on-trade had made during August has gone abruptly into reverse in September, as people shortened their evenings out or cancelled them altogether. If these restrictions and sales trends continue, pubs, bars and restaurants face a tough autumn and winter and will need sustained support from government.”

To learn more about how CGA is tracking the on-trade’s recovery, click here. Please contact or to understand how CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker and other research services can help your business.

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