Britain’s drinks sales have fallen short of pre-pandemic levels for the second week in a row, as average sales by value in managed pubs, bars and restaurants in the week to last Saturday (4 December) were 14% down on the same week in 2019, CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker shows.
Drinks sales were between 6% and 15% down on 2019’s levels on every day of last week, with the shortfall peaking on Friday and Saturday (3 and 4 December).
CGA said this is “a sign that celebratory and high-tempo occasions are going to be particularly vulnerable this Christmas”.
The spirits category once again outpaced the drinks market as a whole, with their sales only 3% below the same week in 2019. Beer and cider were both down 17%, wine was down 20%, and soft drinks were down 14%.
This follows a 12% drop in the previous seven days, with more drops “inevitable” after the introduction of new Covid measures.
CGA said the fall is down to stormy weather denting the drinking-out market and concerns around the Omicron variant hitting consumer confidence.
With more restrictions recently announced, including Covid passes for nightclubs and large venues, and instructions to work from home, “sales are likely to dip further in the run-in to Christmas”.
Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director of UK and Ireland, said: “These numbers show it has been a very tough start to December for the drinking-out sector.
“New Covid restrictions have come at the worst possible time, and are particularly bad news for nightclubs and large venues in Britain’s town and city centres.”
He added: “On top of rising costs and supply issues, they are going to cause severe problems for hospitality well into 2022, and businesses deserve sustained government support on rates, VAT and more to help them get through an extremely difficult period.”