Drinks sales in Britain’s on-trade have fluctuated widely over the last two weeks, with the heatwave bringing mixed fortunes for pubs, bars, and restaurants.

CGA couple beer

CGA by NielsenIQ’s latest Drinks Recovery Tracker shows average sales by value in managed venues in the seven days to Saturday, 16th July, were 0.4% ahead of the same week in 2019. This is a reasonable improvement after drops of between 1% and 7% in the last three weeks.

However, sales dipped back by 6% in the following week (to Saturday, 23rd July). While high temperatures usually boost drinks sales by attracting people to beer gardens and other outdoor areas, the record-breaking temperatures proved too much for some consumers, prompting them to avoid travel and hot venues and drink at home instead. Some venues were closed because of the extreme heat.

As temperatures steadily rose, drinks sales were in 2022-on-21019 growth by 6% and 4% on Sunday 10th and Monday 11th July. They hovered just below pre-Covid levels for most of the rest of the week, before moving 9% ahead on Monday 18 July.

But as the heatwave reached a peak, sales dipped by between 10% and 14% every day from Tuesday to Friday (19th to 22nd July). Positive trading on Saturday (23rd July) ended the week on a high, thanks in part to the popularity of a major Ultimate Fighting Championship event screened in pubs.

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Cider sales are usually strong in warm weather, but this category also had a mixed fortnight, with trading up 18% on 2019 in the week to 16th July, but down by 7% in the following seven days. Spirits (up 6% then down 1%) and beer (up 2% then down 5%) followed a similar pattern, while soft drinks were down in both weeks, by 3% and 9%. The wine category suffered by far the most, as sales tumbled 21% and 17% across the two weeks.

“It’s not often that we see sunny weather have a detrimental effect on drinks sales, but the recent heatwave was just too much for some consumers and operators,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland.

“As always, there will have been winners and losers, but overall it’s been a tough summer so far for the on-premise. With more pressures to come from rising costs and rail strikes, operators and suppliers will be hoping for more sunshine but bearable temperatures, and plenty of staycations to give sales a desperately needed boost in August.”

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