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Pubs to reap rewards of outside trading over bars and restaurants

Published:  03 March, 2021

Fewer than half of England’s pubs, bars and restaurants will have any space to operate outside when the lockdown is relaxed—but pubs could be set to have a head start with 72% having outside space, CGA research has revealed. 

RISE, CGA’s online outlet and location targeting tool, revealed that just over 26,000 pubs, bars and restaurants sites have beer gardens, patios, terraces, or other external areas that could be used to host guests. This equates overall to 43% of venues, with the proportion rising to 68% with outside areas in rural parts of England,  46% in suburban areas, and just 25% on high streets.

The research said that pubs have a clear head start on outdoor trading as over two thirds (72%) have outside space, compared to just 21% of bars and 8% of restaurants.

Outside space can also make a big difference to drinks sales, CGA said. 

It revealed that between April and June 2019, community pubs with outdoor areas saw their weekly drinks takings run 22% ahead of outlets that didn’t. Outside trading areas made a similar difference between July and September 2020, when the safety factor of less confined surroundings, combined with good weather, created a 23% differential in sales.

Data from last summer’s Recovery Tracker showed that cask ale sales in community pubs with outdoor areas were 41% higher than in those without them. Premium lager (up 25%) and packaged cider (up 30%) benefitted too—as did wine and Champagne (up 46%) and soft drinks (up 39%).

CGA said that even if venues have outdoor space, there is no certainty they will open from 12 April and many areas will not be practical for trade or will not generate enough income to make opening worthwhile. 

 “Suppliers and operators will now undoubtedly be planning for the reopening of hospitality. Identifying the most viable outlet opportunities, especially those with outdoor space in the immediate term, will be key to driving those early sales,” said Jonathan Jones, CGA’s MD, UK & Ireland.

“Some pubs will enjoy full beer gardens if the sun shines, but others will find it tough to make outside spaces work, particularly in urban areas.”

Earlier this week, it was revealed that nearly 12,000 licensed premises have closed in Britain since December 2019 — an average of around 30 a day and the highest rate on record, according to the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners.