Analysis of drinks sales during first half of 2024

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Analysis: Drinks sales fluctuate in first half of 2024 (Credit:Getty/Peter Cade)
Analysis: Drinks sales fluctuate in first half of 2024 (Credit:Getty/Peter Cade)

Related tags Cider Beer Spirits Wine Soft drink Cga

The Morning Advertiser has taken a look at how drinks sales have performed across different categories so far this year.

Analysis of data from CGA by NIQ’s Daily Drinks Tracker, which measures sales by value in managed venues, revealed the spirits category has been hardest hit so far while the Long Alcoholic Drink (LAD) segment managed better amid shifting consumer dynamics.

Sporting fixtures and annual events also helped boost trade earlier this year, while unpredictable and wet weather has caused sales to fluctuate.


Drinks sales in the on-trade started the year with a 25% uplift in the seven days to 6 January vs the same week in 2023, according to data from CGA.

However, the numbers were inflated by the inclusion of New Year’s Eve in this year’s figures and not in the previous year's data, CGA​ said.

Category wise, spirits showed the most growth during the first week of the year, up 49%, though the tracker showed large upswings for all key categories during this period, with beer (up 19%), cider (up 24%), wine (up 32%) and soft drinks (up 14%) all in growth.

However, the category comparisons were also skewed by the New Year’s Eve comparisons.

The “festive hangover” then kicked in, with trade having fallen by 7% in the week to Saturday 7 January before further declining by 8% and 5% the following two weeks.

Excluding the first week of the month, all drinks categories measured in the tracker were in decline in January.

Spirits were by far the worst affected overall, plummeting by 59 percentage points year-on-year, followed by the soft drinks segment with a drop of 16 percentage points.

Beer saw sales slump 8.3 percentage points while wine saw a downturn of 12 percentage points.

The cider category performed best during the first month of the year with an overall drop of just 1 percentage point.

CGA by NIQ managing director UK & Ireland Jonathan Jones said at the time January had been a “hard month” for operators impacted by consumers saving money after Christmas and bad weather.


By the first week of February, drinks sales had been down for four consecutive weeks, with trade in the seven days to Saturday 3 February 0.6% below the same period in 2023, attributed in part to rail strikes.

However, sales returned to growth the following week, finishing the seven days to Saturday 10 February up 1% year-on-year, boosted in part by the start of the Six Nations Rugby tournament.

Valentines Day also helped push numbers in February despite sales finishing 0.1% down in the week to Saturday 17 February before trade slipped back down the following week.

Category wise, spirits continued to suffer, dropping 29 percentage points overall, followed by soft drinks which slumped 3 percentage points.

All other segments measured were in growth, with cider and beer having performed best, up 12 and 11 percentage points respectively, while wine saw a 4-percentage point uptick.


Economic challenges further impacted drinks sales in March, with shifting consumer dynamics cited as having made growth more difficult amid “tough trading conditions”.

In the week to Saturday 2 March sales fell 2% year-on-year, marking more than five weeks of declining or stagnant sales.

Though trade picked back up the following week, finishing 5% ahead during the seven days to 9 March against 2023, thanks to sporting fixtures, such as an Anthony Joshua boxing match and the Manchester derby, plus more favourable weather conditions.

St. Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day both then helped boost trade by a further 1% in the week to Saturday 16 Mach, particularly wine sales, before finishing the month 1% ahead the following seven days.

During this period, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also delivered the Spring Budget,​​ announcing the freeze to alcohol duty would be extended until February 2025, though voices from across the sector shared their "disappointment" at the plans with some stating the measures would not benefit pubs.

As with previous months, cider was the strongest category, gaining 23 percentage points year-on-year, followed by beer at 20 percentage points, while spirits were hardest hit again dropping 32 percentage points overall.

Meanwhile wine saw growth of 5.8 percentage points in March and soft drinks saw a downturn of 3 percentage points.


Overall drinks sales were up 5.8% between Saturday 30 March and Saturday 20 April.

However just seven days out of the four-week period saw growth, with trade rising by 10% in the week to 30 March, the strongest week of the month.

Sales then saw a 3% downturn between Sunday 31 March and Saturday 6 April before dropping by 1% and 0.2% the following two weeks, attributed in part to the timing of Bank Holiday weekends in 2023 and cooler weather than a year ago.

However, Jones said despite consumers still being hit by the cost-of-living-crisis, operators could be “optimistic” about “reasonable growth” over the upcoming summer months.

Beer ​sales fared best during the four-week period, up by 14%, followed by wine​, which saw a 12.3% overall increase.

The cider segment finished 8% ahead of the equivalent period in 2023 while soft drinks were up 3.6%.

Continuing a downward trend, the spirits category​ was the hardest hit, with overall sales down 18%.

April also saw the cost of a pint of draught lager​ in pubs rise by 4.6% year-on-year, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), jumping from £4.54 in April 2023 to £4.75.


Moving to May, drinks sales started the month 4% behind the equivalent period in 2023, extending the run of small year-on-year drops since early April, attributed in part to the timing of bank holidays and unpredictable weather conditions.

However, as the weather improved the following week, so did trading conditions, with sales finishing 13% ahead of last year in the week to Saturday 11 May, before dropping down to 0.3% up the next week.

Though wet weather dampened the figures in the week to Saturday 25 May, pushing sales 3% below the same week last year.

Cider sales soared by 33 percentage points in May while beer sales jumped 19 percentage points across the four-week period with spirits and wine sales having fluctuated with the weather.  


The start of June saw trade hit by a second successive week of year-on-year decline due to mixed weather and “sub-par” bank holiday trading, with sales finishing 1% below 2023 levels in the week to Saturday 1 June.

Category wise, wine performed best among the segments measured with year-on-year growth of 8% while beer saw just a 1% uptick during the first week of the month, though cider, soft drinks and spirits were all in decline, down 14%, 1% and 8% respectively.

Meanwhile the latest tracker showed sales finished up 3% behind 2023 levels during the week to Saturday 8 June, marking three weeks of negative numbers thanks to wet and unpredictable weather. 

Trade struggled against "tough comparisons" to last year, when temperatures were around 30 degrees.

For the second week in a row wine was the best performing drinks category, with year-on-year sales growth of 6% while beer and cider were down 6% and 15% respectively. Soft drinks (down 5%) and spirits (down 10%) were also in the red.

Jones said: “June sales were always going to struggle against the heatwave of 12 months ago, but the cool and damp weather is making year-on-year growth doubly difficult for pubs and bars.

“The start of the Euro 2024 tournament should give sales a boost, but a change in the weather is desperately needed to lure people out of home, whether to watch games or enjoy beer gardens and terraces.”

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