While sales were still below 2020, it was the first-time weekly comparisons had dropped into single digits since November 2021, as pubs were able to trade without Plan B restrictions in place for three full days in the same week.
CGA managing director, UK and Ireland, Jonathan Jones said: “These figures leave us cautiously optimistic that pubs, bars and restaurants can build their sales over the coming weeks.
Challenges far from over
“Covid challenges are far from over, sales are still well behind 2020 levels, and many people face a squeeze on disposable income, but after an immensely challenging December and January we can hopefully look forward to something of a recovery over February and beyond.”
Last Thursday and Saturday (27 and 29 January) saw sales just 4% and 6% behind 2020 levels, while in Scotland and Wales, where Covid restrictions have been slower to ease, weekly sales were 17% and 20% behind, however both numbers represent week-on-week improvements.
Spirits sales were 3% up on the same week in 2020 thanks to the ongoing popularity of cocktails, while beer sales (decreased by 12%), cider (down 13%), wine (fell by 14%) and soft drinks (a drop of 10%) lagged behind, though all four categories were ahead of the previous seven days.
Growing consumer confidence
This comes after a CGA Consumer Pulse Survey last month revealed more than two thirds of the 2,000 people surveyed felt more confident when visiting pubs, bars, and restaurants during December 2021 than at the start of 2021.
Jones added: “Consumer confidence about going out is gradually recovering, and the end to work-from-home instructions and restrictions on clubs will boost night-time visits in particular.”