Outdoor Hospitality

Many of us have been gleefully taking advantage of the re-opening of pub gardens, wrapped up like Christmas carol singers as we try to fend off the colder than normal temperatures. The alcohol certainly helps with that!

As well as enjoying a taste of much needed social interaction, it’s good to know that we’ve also been doing our bit to help the pub sector, which has suffered more than most during the prolonged lockdown periods.

Much-needed cheer for the sector

Our hard work seems to be paying off. Some top-line figures from the first two weeks of pubs reopening on April 12 will certainly begin to put smiles back on the faces of the local landlords. Those with gardens, at least.

Analysing the first two weeks of sales since Pubs have been able to reopen to outdoor custom, we have seen a 317% increase in sales year-on-year, as customers make up for lost socialising time.

Sales of Table Sauces and Crisps, Snacks & Nuts have soared, compared to last year, with sales up 1100% and 1084% respectively.

Unfair comparison?

But hold on a minute, these incredible figures are hard to believe for very good reason. We need to remember, this time last year, the country was in lockdown. What we really need to do, to make a more worthwhile comparison is go all the way back to the same two weeks in 2019, well before the disruption of Covid.

In this case, overall sales in Pubs are down -46%, showing there is still plenty of ground to make up for the industry to get firmly back on its feet.

Pent-up demand

It’s also interesting to compare performance in the first two weeks after April 12 with the peak period of the Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) initiative in August 2020, when a wave of pent-up demand was unleashed like the one we have recently experienced. In this case, overall sales are still down a sizeable -36%.

However, bearing in mind that is drawing a comparison with a wildly popular Government-backed initiative, these last two weeks have definitely shown real promise. At their current rate, we would expect sales to surpass the peak EOTHO results in the coming 2-3 weeks, maybe even before pubs re-open for indoor trade.

And which regions have seen the biggest surge in pub sales? London, the South-East and the North-West have been leading the charge with drinkers and diners in these areas seemingly the keenest to return to some kind of normality.

Expert analysis

Head of SalesOut, Kirsty Harris-Clarke summed the findings up: “We have all seen how busy our pub gardens have been in recent weeks and the scale of demand we have seen in the outdoor spaces plays out strongly in the figures we have analysed.

Obviously up against the same period last year, the sales bounce was always going to be strong, but the sales numbers posted this year are really quite something. If the weather can hold out until drinkers can sit indoors in a pub or bar on the 17 May, this will really put the sector on a sound footing as we move towards the crucial summer period.”

We’ll drink to that!

So much so, that SalesOut is making a bold prediction.

Based on the sales data we are tracking, we are anticipating sales records in the Pub sector in May and June this year to smash previous records for these two months, as further pent-up demand is unleashed with indoor trade being allowed once more.

However, the uncontrollable nature of the British weather makes it difficult to predict sales performance in the weeks leading up to the reintroduction of indoor trade. Not that the cold weather seems to have stopped us up until now!

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