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Hospitality scores big in Rugby World Cup

Published:  10 November, 2023

Bolstered by unfancied England’s route to the semi-finals, the Rugby World Cup generated double-digit growth in drinks sales for the on-trade.

According to CGA, five of the six knock-out matchdays delivered a boost of 16% or more against the average equivalent day over the rest of 2023. Growth by value peaked at 23% during England’s quarter-final with Fiji on Sunday 15 October, thanks in part to an afternoon kick-off and a second quarter-final afterwards.

Pubs and bars screening games also enjoyed big boosts on England’s two other knock-out matchdays. The narrow semi-final defeat to South Africa on Saturday 21 October contributed to a rise of 16% in on-premise drinks sales while the bronze match with Argentina the following Friday (27 October) helped trigger an 18% uplift. The first of those two days was also boosted by an attractive round of Premier League football fixtures, while the second benefitted from the run-up to Halloween.

The tournament’s impacts were not limited to England’s game days. Sales rose 16% on Saturday 14 October, when Wales played Argentina and Ireland took on New Zealand in the quarter-finals, while the World Cup Final involving New Zealand and South Africa on Saturday 28 October saw an 18% upswing – though this was also fuelled by football, boxing and Halloween occasions. The only single-digit growth day was Friday 20 October, when the Argentina v New Zealand semi-final lifted drinks sales by a modest 4%.

Across the last six games of the World Cup, growth averaged 15%. This followed a 16% increase during the group stages of the tournament.

As expected, the Long Alcoholic Drinks (LAD) category saw the greatest uplift, with sales 26% ahead of the average same days during the knock-out stages. Stout’s association with rugby made it the biggest winner of all, with sales gains of 38%. Cider (up 28%), premium lager (up 19%), lager (up 19%) and keg ale (up 18%) also had successful tournaments.

“These excellent growth figures show how fruitful big sporting occasions can be for pubs and bars,” said Paul Bolton, client director, GB Drinks at CGA by NIQ. “While Halloween footfall and other sports helped, it is clear that millions of consumers want to enjoy big games in the company of others in pubs and bars. Matches were a particularly important boost for beer brands, and the tournament will hopefully prove to be a good springboard into the festive season.”