Strikes send drinks sales off the rails

National rail strikes hit out-of-home drinks sales last week, with city-centre and after-work occasions badly hit as consumers stayed at home.

The latest Drinks Recovery Tracker from CGA by NielsenIQ shows average sales by value in managed venues in the seven days to Saturday (25 June) were 7% down on the same week in 2019. Aside from a May week that was skewed by the Bank Holiday, it is the largest shortfall in sales since late February. With year-on-year inflation now at 9%, sales are even further behind in real terms.



It was a strong start to the week, with sales up by 21% and 13% on Sunday and Monday (19 and 20 June)—and by 9% on Tuesday (22 June), despite the first day of strikes. However, sales fell 24% behind pre-COVID-19 levels on Thursday (24 June), as the disruption of the second strike led many commuters and other rail travellers to stay at home. Average sales were 22% and 11% behind on Friday and Saturday (25 and 26 June) as the impact of the third strike was felt, however, these days were impacted by a comparison vs a heatwave in 2019.






“As people reduce their days in the office, Thursdays have been increasingly popular for after-work drinks, but the strikes severely curtailed them last week,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “Disruption on Saturday hit what should have been the busiest day of the week in many city-centre venues. Operators and suppliers will be hoping that the dispute is settled quickly to avoid further knocks to sales, in what are already very challenging trading conditions.”



With Saturday and city-centres bearing the brunt of the travel chaos, it was a tough week for spirits sales, which finished the week 7% behind the same period in 2019. Soft drinks and beer were both 5% down, and wine (down 13%) and cider (down 14%) were both in double-digit decline.



CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker monitors managed outlet 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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