Drinks sales down but hopes up for strong Christmas

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Comparison: CGA by NIQ analyses drink sales (Credit: Getty/ Taiyou Nomachi)
Comparison: CGA by NIQ analyses drink sales (Credit: Getty/ Taiyou Nomachi)

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On premise drinks sales were down by 5% year-on-year in the week to last Saturday (25 November)—but there are grounds for optimism as the run-up to Christmas begins.

CGA by NIQ’s latest Daily Drinks Tracker showed trading suffered by comparison to late November 2022, which saw the start of the football World Cup. 

This kept sales on Monday and Friday (20 and 24 November) substantially below the equivalent days last year, when England played their first two matches in the tournament.

However, average drinks sales in managed venues were in year-on-year growth on each of the other five days of last week. 

The biggest positive came on Saturday (25 November), when sales finished 13% ahead year-on-year—well above inflation and a sign that Christmas celebrations are getting underway.

Year-on-year comparison

Category-wise, wine continued its welcome revival this year, with sales 8% ahead of the same week in 2022. Beer (down 5%) and cider (down 7%) suffered from the tough year-on-year comparatives, and the spirits category (down 12%) continued a very challenging 2023. Sales of soft drinks were 0.6% up.

Jonathan Jones, CGA by NIQ’s managing director, UK and Ireland, said: “However, bumper Saturday sales suggest people are ready to enjoy pubs and bars over the festive season, and the run of dry weather gives them more encouragement to head out. 

“The agreement from RMT members to hold of on further rail strikes until at least next spring also increases optimism for the festive period, but operators and suppliers will be hoping that Aslef follows suit before they can be fully confident about Christmas trading.”

Reservations up

This comes after research from hospitality technology supplier Zonal revealed December reservations to be up 40% from 2022, with bookings for Christmas Day itself up 59%.

Olivia FitzGerald, Zonal chief sales and marketing officer Sales, said the increase in bookings was “very welcome” to the sector. 

However, she added: “While bookings are up, we’re conscious that people’s plans change and we’re keen to ensure that people can easily amend or cancel their bookings so that hospitality venues don’t suffer no-shows, especially at this important time of the year.”

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