Drinks sales fall flat amid 'challenging' trading conditions

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Challenging month: drinks sales fall flat for managed venues in July (Credit: Getty/monkeybusinessimages)
Challenging month: drinks sales fall flat for managed venues in July (Credit: Getty/monkeybusinessimages)

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Operators were presented with “challenging” trading conditions in July as drinks sales fall flat.

The latest Drinks Recovery Tracker from CGA ​by NIQ, which measures average drinks sales by value in managed venues, showed sales were level with the same period in 2022 over the week to Saturday 29 July.

Attributed in part to the damp weather and ongoing cost-of-living crisis, the figures rounded off a month of “modest trading”, CGA stated, after drops of 3% and 0.3% over the previous two weeks.

The “tough fortnight” comes after 11 consecutive weeks of year-on-year growth amid widespread sunshine in May and June.

Challenging month

CGA ​managing director UK & Ireland Jonathan Jones said: “Against a backdrop of disappointing weather and the cost-of-living crisis, pubs, bars and restaurants have done well to haul drinks sales back to last year’s levels.

“However, there’s no escaping the fact that July was a challenging month for the on premise, and with more interest rate rises​ this week spending is going to remain tight for many consumers.”

Daily comparisons ranged from highs of 4% last Wednesday (26 July) to a decline of 3% on Friday (28 July), the data revealed.

Later on in the week, on premise operators managed to “shrug off” the effect of rail strikes on Saturday (29 July) with 1% year-on-year growth that day—though the comparative period was also challenged by strikes.  

Brighter month ahead

Category-wise, wine ​sales completed a strong July, finishing 6% ahead vs 2022, thanks in part to consumers heading inside for meals rather than buying longer drinks in pub gardens and terraces, according to CGA.

Beer ​and cider had reasonable weeks, up 4% and 0.4% respectively, while soft drinks were down 3%.

The worst-hit category, as it has been for most of 2023 so far, was spirits, where sales were down 10% year-on-year. 

Jones added: “Good forecasts and staycations will hopefully make August a brighter month and pull people back to outdoor drinking.” 

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