December sales dampened

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Christmas sales: pubs sold more drinks on key festive dates this year but sales for the month were flat
Christmas sales: pubs sold more drinks on key festive dates this year but sales for the month were flat

Related tags: Sales

Like-for-like sales across pubs and restaurants were static in December (last month) as wet weather deterred many from venturing out.

Data from business management consultancy Catton Hospitality shows that sales flat-lined in the last month of 2019, with an incremental drop of 0.1% on the year prior. 

Food sales saw a like-for-like growth of 1.1% but reserved drinkers meant wet sales fell by 1%.

The company analysed more than 1,500 sites that use its S4Labour software and suggested some businesses may have missed opportunities to draw in customers early on in the month.

It found that while people were willing to spend a lot on the big days of the year, they stayed at home for much of the rest of the month.

Over the three main trading days of Christmas (24-26 December) and New Year’s Eve, pubs performed much better than the year prior, increasing sales by 3.9%. 

Drink success 

Wet sales on these main days also boomed, with like-for-like drink sales reaching 4.6% higher than the same dates in 2018. 

Wet-led businesses outside London enjoyed greater success than ones in the city, with those sites enjoying an increase of 6.8% over key festive dates. In comparison, drinks-focused venues in London saw a 4.5% increase over the same dates.

Catton Hospitality director Richard Hartley explained: “London has a higher exposure to workers and we believe that the lower sales performance here was more down to Christmas being a day later and that this encouraged employees to take the full week off.”

Hartley explained: “We actually think operators did a good job [appealing to drinkers on non key dates] but that this figure was impacted by the wet weather in the early part of the month.”

There was an overall like-for-like growth of 1.2% in the capital compared to a drop of 0.3% outside London, a trend that matches previous years.

Food-focused sites within London saw a 4.2% growth in their like-for-likes while dry-led businesses elsewhere increased by an incremental 0.3%.

Overall like-for-like sales in December 2018 rose by 4.5% on 2017, according to S4Labour’s figures.

The Late Night Index survey from late-night operator The Deltic Group found that customers were more inclined to spend more when celebrating a festive occasion.

Related topics: Events & Occasions

Related news

Show more


Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more


Subscribe to The Morning Advertiser

The definitive voice for the pub trade

Get the latest news, analysis and insights from the uk pub sector straight to your inbox!