On-trade drinks sales have fallen year on year for the fifth week in a row, CGA by NIQ’s Daily Drinks Tracker shows, but there are signs that May will be brighter.

CGA pub sport

Average sales in managed venues for the week to Saturday, 4th May, were 4% behind the equivalent period in 2023. It extends a run of trading that has seen small year-on-year drops of between 0.2% and 6% since early April. 

For the second successive week, drinks sales suffered from patchy weather in many parts of Britain. They also faced tough comparisons with a sunny first week of May in 2023, when sales were inflated by the inclusion of a bank holiday weekend.  

While daily sales were well behind 2023 for the first part of the week, the performance was much better in the second half.

Year-on-year sales were up by 6% and 13% on Wednesday and Thursday, and they soared by 22% on Saturday — partly because of better weather, and partly because it was the start of the bank holiday weekend. This was despite comparisons with a day that brought a big boost to sales during the King’s Coronation. 

Long alcoholic drinks categories fared best, with beer sales up 1% and cider down only 1%. Soft drinks were down 7% and wine up 1%, but spirits endured another difficult week, as sales dropped 19% year on year. 

“Bank holidays always make year-on-year comparisons tricky,” said Jonathan Jones, CGA by NIQ’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “Sales trends have exhibited greater volatility owing to irregular rainfall throughout April.

“Nevertheless, suppliers and operators should be encouraged by strong trading in the first few days of May, which suggests some consumers are starting to spend more. With warmer weather arriving at last and forecasts of more to come, we can expect some favourable conditions — especially for venues with gardens and terraces.” 

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