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Pent up demand delivers bigger post-lockdown bounce than 2020

Published:  21 April, 2021

Pubs, bars and restaurants able to operate outdoor space have seen a significant wave of customers returning, according to new data from CGA.

During the first week of outside only reopening, those businesses able to operate were on average 21% down on the equivalent week in 2019, but were up by 45% on the week from 4 July 2020, when indoor service was also allowed following the first UK lockdown.

The 2019 equivalent week also included Easter weekend, but comparing trading during the week before that with the first week of reopening in 2021 (12-18 April), sales were some 45% higher.

However, the data from CGA and Alix Partners’ Market Recovery Report also reminded that just 23% of English licenced premises have been able to open outdoor service by mid-last week, with total sales languishing far below pre-pandemic levels.

“Drink sales performance in the first week shows an encouraging start to the on premise recovery,” said Jonny Jones, CGA’s MD, UK & Ireland.

“Pent-up demand from consumers to get back out into pubs, bars and restaurants is clear and the first visit fear that many had in July last year is now playing less of a role in their decision to do so.

“However, with less than a quarter of outlets in England accepting guests last week, this demand has been spread over fewer venues which is driving performance for those that have reopened. So, whilst this is a good start for the sector, it’s clear that hospitality’s recovery still has a very long way to go.”

Drilling further down into the CGA data revealed that drinks sales in trading venues were 49% higher than in the reopening week of July 2020, with food sales up 34%.

The first day of outdoor reopening also saw like-for-like drinks sales double on the comparative Monday in 2019, but then settle at around 10% higher for the rest of the first week of reopening.

“Trading in such circumstances was always likely to benefit from a welcome initial spike but the return of limited trading cannot overshadow the fact most venues remain closed,” added UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.

“For any semblance of widespread viability to return to the sector, it is crucial that the Government delivers on its commitment to dropping all restrictions from 21 June.”