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Weather dampens bank holiday drinks sales

Published:  10 May, 2021

The on-trade has recorded a significant like-for-like drop in drink sales in the week leading up to the May bank holiday as poor weather created tough conditions for bars, restaurants and pubs still only allowed to trade outdoors.

Following a strong start to sales since venues reopened in mid-April, the week to Saturday 1 May proved much more challenging, with average like-for-like drinks sales down 38% on the equivalent week in 2019 – nearly twice the deficit of 21% in the previous seven days, according to the latest data from CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker.

Drinks sales on Sunday 2 May were down 35% on the same Sunday in 2019. Worst was bank holiday Monday, when sales dipped 66%. Wales bore the brunt of the weather, with takings down 85%.

Pubs, where drinks sales were down by 33% across the week, continued to outperform restaurants (down 54%) and bars (down 59%), thanks to their greater availability of outdoor trading space. 

“The success of outside trading was always going to be very reliant on the British spring weather,” said Jonathan Jones, CGA’s MD, UK and Ireland.  

“While consumers remain eager to eat and drink out, the climate is making it very hard for many to do so at the moment. 

“Hospitality has worked very hard and creatively to make outdoor service work, but it won’t be able to properly reboot until venues can welcome guests inside from 17 May — and until then all we can do is hope for some brighter weather,” he said.  

CGA’s category data reveals drops in sales across the board last week, with wine down 31%, spirits 38%, beer 34% and cider 29%. Soft drinks however fared the worst, down 54%. 

While operators in England enjoyed a fortnight of good conditions, the poor weather made it a challenging first week back for Scotland and Wales. Their return helped to create a 2% uptick in sales on Monday 26 April, but sales then dropped away sharply as temperatures fell and rain moved in.

The CGA Drinks Recovery Tracker service measures drinks category, supplier and brand rate of sale performance versus pre-Covid sales, with daily data is reported within three days.