Drinks sales show 'fragility' of year-on-year growth

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Fluctuating sales: March and April trade shows fragility of year on year growth (Credit: Getty/Igor Vershinsky)
Fluctuating sales: March and April trade shows fragility of year on year growth (Credit: Getty/Igor Vershinsky)

Related tags Finance Cga Drinks

Drinks sales in the on-trade were down by 3% in the seven days to Saturday 25 March, the latest Drinks Recovery Tracker from CGA by NIQ’s Drinks Recovery Tracker has revealed.

The data showed average sales by value in managed pubs, restaurants and bars over the last two weeks of March fluctuated from a low of 11% down compared with 2022 to 15% ahead.

Stronger days included Sunday 19 March (up 15%) and Wednesday 29 March (up 12%), when the weather was particularly sunny. 

CGA​ managing director UK and Ireland Johnathan Jones said: “Small differences in temperature can make a big difference to sales​ at this time of year, and that’s how it proved in the last two weeks of March.”

Fragility of year-on-year growth 

“A difficult third week of March was followed by a much better final week, highlighting the fragility of year-on-year growth in 2023.”

The weather had a heavy influence on trade​, as is usually the case with Spring, according to CGA​, with rain and low temperatures unfavourable in comparison with the sunshine of this time last year

However, as the weather picked up the following week, the figures showed some recovery, with sales 4% ahead in the seven days to Saturday 1 April.

Though with inflation still in double digits, trading remained well behind March 2022 in real terms, according to CGA.

Cost-of-living challenges 

Category wise, beer​ and cider​ sales were in decline with drops of 1% and 6% respectively in the week to 25 March, though both categories bounced back the following week, finishing 5% and 10% ahead year-on-year respectively.   

The wine category (up 11% and 3%) had two good weeks as many people stayed indoors, but spirits​ (down 13% and 6%) fared badly year-on-year, as they have for most of 2023 so far.

In addition, the tracker​ highlighted sales of soft drinks​ (up 3% and down 1%) were broadly flat across the fortnight. 

Jones added: “Operators and suppliers will be pinning hopes on sunshine to bring consumers out to drink and loosen their spending despite the ongoing cost of living challenges.” 

Related topics Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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