The Publican’s Morning Advertiser teamed up with sports pub finder app and website MatchPint to survey licensees about the impact of the sporting summer ahead, including the prestige football tournament which kicks off in France on 10 June.
Almost two-thirds predict that the month-long Euro 2016 will lead to a like-for-like sales rise of more than 10%. About one in five think it will boost sales by over 20%. Licensees’ estimated average increase was 14%, comparing favourably to the 6% rise in like-for-like sales during last year’s Rugby World Cup.
The big match of the group stage — England v Wales on the afternoon of Thursday 16 June — is unsurprisingly pinpointed as the game that will have the biggest impact on sales. About two thirds of licensees said the match would be “very positive” for sales, followed by England’s other group games against Russia and Slovakia.
About one third believe the knockout games will offer a major sales increase, perhaps hopeful of the home nations’ chances of progressing deeper into the tournament and tasting success.
Investment in their pub
Licensees are also investing to make the most of the sporting summer. A quarter plan to upgrade their TV screens, with the same planning improvements to AV equipment. MatchPint said this was encouraging given its previous research, which shows that pubgoers are heavily influenced on choice of venue by the quality of the viewing experience.
Almost half plan on hiring extra staff to cope with the busy bars. A similar number will be introducing a new food offer, with six in 10 looking at stocking new drinks.
Football and rugby were named as the top two sports that drive food sales, indicating that volume still lies with the mass-popularity sports and goes against the assumption that longer-lasting events such as cricket or NFL present more opportunity to grow food sales.
Interestingly, four in 10 licensees say they will be showing new sports for the first time this summer in an effort to attract new customers. The opportunity that boxing, particularly the big pay-per-view world title fights, as well as more ‘niche sports’ presents for pubs is of growing interest to many.
“There is an emergence of pubs driving an ever growing return on investment by diversifying their sports offer,” MatchPint said.
In terms of promotions, two-thirds of pubs said that marketing activity on social media like Facebook and Twitter would have a ‘very positive’ effect on sales. MatchPint said it had seen a noticeable improvement in pubs producing more professional, engaging content for use on social platforms.
Four in 10 respondents also said that customer loyalty schemes would prove beneficial, along with the more traditional promotional tools such as exterior banners, A-boards and in-venue point-of-sale material.
Viewpoint: Dominic Collingwood, MatchPint
"Euro 2016 opportunities are still very England-centric in publicans’ eyes with two thirds suggesting that England v Wales will have an incredibly positive impact on sales. The tournament is certainly going to have a positive effect on like-for-like (LFL) sales. Well over half are predicting sales to grow by more than 10%, with 11%-20% the prediction of more than four in 10. To put this in context, our customers suggested that the Rugby World Cup had a 6% increased effect on LFL sales.
The resurrection of heavyweight boxing has clearly been felt by publicans, with Fury vs Klitschko II on 9 July picked out by a third as likely to have a major positive impact on sales. This makes it the second most anticipated event of the summer, coming in well ahead of the Rio Olympics (7%), Wimbledon (6%), and cricket (6%).
It’s fantastic that four in 10 publicans say they will be showing new sports for the first time this summer in an attempt to boost sales. Plenty of our customers tell us about the major success of both Formula 1 and NFL in driving sales at non-peak times.
While the limited excitement for Wimbledon and cricket may be explained by them being annual events that are more part of the regular sales fabric than major one-off opportunities, some will be surprised by the lack of interest in Rio. We shouldn’t be; in general, the feeling was that London 2012 had minimal impact on on-trade sales.
It’s good to see some publicans appreciating the importance of upgrading their equipment and AV. We would urge more publicans to invest here, however. Our survey of 20,000 sports fans last summer suggested that screens had a major impact on choice of pub, second only to location and well ahead of pricing and service.
It’s clear that with more home nations participating in Euro 2016, an exciting young England team, and the rise and rise of boxing interest, pubs feel that the summer of sport ahead is one to get unusually excited about."