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UK on-trade sales grow over festive period

Bars and restaurants in the UK experienced a 2.8% increase in sales over the Christmas and New Year period compared to 2013, with London groups seeing the greatest surge.

The UK on-trade experienced a surge in sales over the festive period, while retailers saw their figures fall

According to latest figures by research and consultancy group CGA Peach, London saw a 4.4% increase in on-trade sales over the six weeks to 3 January 2015, compared to same period last year.

Total sales were up 6.6% on 2013 among the 30 leading groups that made up the sample.

“With supermarkets and specialist off-licences, like Majestic Wine, seeing seasonal sales suffer, it seems the British public decided to go out and have fun rather than just stay at home,” said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach.

Restaurants chains experienced a 4.7% like-for-like sales increase, while bars and pubs saw a 2% collective increase.

“Although drink sales were up 2%, food was the biggest driver of growth, even within these predominantly drink-led environments, with sales up 6.8% over the period,” said Martin.

He added that while drinks-led business are “flourishing” in London, such groups are “finding it tougher” in other areas of the country, where casual dining brands are experiencing greater success.

Total on-trade figures suggest the sector is outperforming the UK’s off-trade, which declined 0.4% over the Christmas and New Year period, latest British Retail Consortium figures show.

“For the British public it is not just about acquiring things any more it’s about buying experience – and perhaps this sector rather than retail should be the accepted measure of economic health,” said Martin.

“The increase in eating and drinking out spend across all sectors, restaurants, bars and pubs, suggests people are perhaps not as depressed by the pressure of austerity as politicians would have us believe, and if David Cameron ever wants to resurrect his ‘happiness barometer’ perhaps this is it.”

According to other recent CGA research, spirits have the potential to become a “far bigger part of the drinks mix”, and can help bars generate greater profits if positioned at the heart of the business.

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