Opportunities in Christmas drinks: Seven CGA by NIQ insights

With the festive season about to get into full swing in the On Premise, suppliers and operators have a great chance to capture sales and share around big occasions and categories.

Here are seven big occasion and category opportunities.


1 Mad Friday

‘Mad Friday’, the last Friday before Christmas Eve, is a big deal for pubs and bars. CGA’s sales measurement service shows it delivered a 25% uplift in RoS by value compared to the average Friday in 2022—though rail strikes meant this was well below the pre-COVID 2019 figure of 58%. Venues will be keeping fingers crossed that any strike action avoids this year’s celebrations on Friday 22 December.


2 Christmas Eve

Consumers’ festive occasions in the On Premise often peak on Christmas Eve. When asked in the OPUS survey about the dates they were most looking forward to in pubs and bars, 22% chose Christmas Eve—just ahead of New Year’s Eve (20%).


3 Creamy liqueurs

Categories that heavily over-index for sales over Christmas include cream liqueurs, where December RoS is 100% higher than the rest of the year. Traditional winter serves like Irish Coffees and Boozy Hot Chocolates peak here.


4 Champagne

Festive celebrations make the Champagne and Sparkling Wine category another big winner. Sales in the last four weeks of 2022 totalled £100.1m55.4% higher than the average same period over the rest of the year.


5 Fortified wine

While fortified wine is a much smaller category, it gets a big uplift at Christmas, with December sales 60.7% ahead of the average four-week period in 2022. Like Champagne and sparkling wine, it benefits from a treat mentality among consumers.


6 Mixed drinks

CGA by NIQ’s Mixed Drinks Report highlights how consumers vary their cocktail choices by season. While refreshing drinks get most interest in the summer, in the winter tastes turn to warming alternatives like hot toddies and coffee flavours, with a preference for higher alcohol content.



While some consumers switch their spending towards more seasonal drinks, mainstream categories remain the most valuable. The Long Alcoholic Drinks category saw sales rise 46.4% on the average four-week period in 2022, to gain 1.1 percentage points of share. Premium lager and cider are particularly well placed to take advantage of consumers treating themselves.


Paul Bolton, CGA by NIQ’s client director, GB Drinks, says: “As we start the Christmas run-in, drinks suppliers and operators can be cautiously confident of bringing December sales back towards the levels we saw before COVID. Despite ongoing cost of living pressures, we know that consumers are more willing to treat themselves during the festive period, but decent weather and an absence of strikes would be a big bonus to encourage consumers out of home. Businesses that understand how consumers’ tastes change over Christmas and respond with the right combination of quality and value can end 2023 on a high.”


CGA by NIQ’s powerful combination of consumer and sales research helps suppliers and operators identify key trends and opportunities over Christmas and all year round. To lean more, email paul.bolton@nielseniq.com.

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