Drinks sales 15% ahead of 2021

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Exceptionally challenging: sales in pubs ahead of 2021 levels but held back by inflation (Credit: Getty/The Good Brigade)
Exceptionally challenging: sales in pubs ahead of 2021 levels but held back by inflation (Credit: Getty/The Good Brigade)

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Average drinks sales in Britain’s managed venues during the seven days to Saturday 10 December were 15% ahead of 2021 levels, the latest Drinks Recovery Tracker from CGA by NielsenIQ has revealed.

The data showed sales were in growth for the 12th consecutive week and above the current rate of inflation.

However, with trade weakened in December 2021 due to Covid concerns, a fairer comparison would be against 2019, the last Christmas without covid restrictions, against which sales were flat at +0.4%.

Furthermore, figures were substantially behind after adjustment for inflation when compared with this period.

Breaking even 

CGA ​managing director UK and Ireland Johnathan Jones said: “As we enter the crucial final fortnight of the year, it’s disappointing to see drinks sales only breaking even vs pre-Covid levels.

“The World Cup​ has been a welcome boost for many pubs and bars, but with England out, rail strikes​ hitting footfall in towns and cities, freezing temperatures and the cost-of-living crisis squeezing people’s disposable incomes, trading conditions are exceptionally challenging.”

The tournament’s knock-out stages boosted on-trade drinks sales by 46% year-on-year on the day of the last-16 match with Senegal (Sunday 4 December), and by 21% during the quarter-final against France six days later.

While trading on both these days was also well ahead of the equivalent days in 2019, it was down on the five days in between the big matches.

Very difficult 

Category wise, beer and cider were the best performers with year-on-year sales up 26% and 30% respectively.

However, growth was softer in soft drinks (up 9%) and wine (up 11%), while the spirits category was up 1%.

Additionally, figures in all key categories were behind when compared to December 2019, excluding beer and cider, which remained in growth.

This comes as the previous tracker​ showed drinks sales were up by 8% in the seven days to Saturday 3 December.

Jones added: “Consumers remain keen to celebrate Christmas and New Year in pubs and bars, but operators and suppliers will find it very difficult to achieve real-terms growth over the festive season.”

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