Saturdays and spirits boost drinks sales recovery

Drinks sales edged further back towards pre-COVID-19 levels last week, as consumers continued to regain confidence after the easing of restrictions.

CGA’s latest Drinks Recovery Tracker shows that average drinks sales by value in the seven days to last Saturday (7 August) were 11% down on the same week in 2019. Its the fourth week in a row in which the gap with pre-COVID-19 levels has narrowed—after a 14% drop in the final week of July, a 19% shortfall in the previous seven days, and a 27% shortfall in the week before that.


Last Saturday (7 August) saw Wales follow England in loosening most COVID-19 restrictions, and the boost helped sales there to end the week down only 7% on the same week in 2019. Scotland’s sales were 28% down, but its own ‘freedom day’ on Monday (9 August) will have been a major lift to nightclubs, bars and pubs in particular this week.


For the second week in a row, Saturday provided the best trading of the week in comparative terms. Sales were just 1% behind 2019 levels, in another welcome indication that the return of late-night venues has triggered a resurgence of weekend drinking occasions.


This trend has also revived On Premise spirits sales, which were 12% higher than 2019 levels last week. Other categories meanwhile improved their sales while remaining below 2019. Soft drinks (down 9%) had a better week than beer (down 18%), wine (down 15%) and cider (down 24%).


Decent weather and widespread staycations helped trading across the week. Year-on-year sales were down by just 5% and 6% on Tuesday and Wednesday (3 and 4 August), though falling temperatures contributed to drops of 23% and 15% on Thursday and Friday (5 and 6 August).


Strong Saturday trading and double-digit growth in spirits sales are two very encouraging signs that recovery in the On Premise is gathering momentum,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “While some consumers remain cautious, and many venues are rightly taking a safety-first approach to reopening by extending COVID-19 restrictions, trading is now closer to pre-COVID-19 norms than at any point in the last 17 months.”


CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker service will continue to monitor 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


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