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Happy Christmas for pubs and bars as drinks sales rise 7%

On Premise drinks sales finished 2023 on a high with year-on-year growth of 7% in the final fortnight of the year, CGA by NIQ’s Daily Drinks Tracker shows.

Consumers’ growing confidence and a curtailing of rail strikes helped to lift average sales in managed venues by 9% in the week to Saturday 23 December, compared to the same week in 2022. That was followed by 6% growth in the following seven days to Saturday 30 December. Both figures are well above the latest 4% rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index. 


Trading achieved year-on-year growth on ten of the 14 days over the final fortnight. Christmas Eve sales were 3% ahead while Christmas Day finished 10%up, though Boxing Day achieved just 0.1% growth. Other notably strong days included ‘Mad Friday’ (22 December), when sales were up by 21%. 


It was an excellent end to 2023 for the Long Alcoholic Drinks (LAD) category. Beer sales were 12% and 13% ahead year-on-year in the last two weeks, while cider was 12% up in both weeks. Wine achieved sales growth of 8% and 7%, completing a welcome year of revival for the category. A mixed year for soft drinks ended with growth of 4% and 5%.  


It was a more difficult festive season in the spirits category, where trading was well behind 2022 for most of last year. Sales were 3% ahead in the penultimate week of 2023, but 11% down in the final week. 

“After a soft November and early December it was great to see such a strong end to 2023 for many operators and suppliers,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA by NIQ’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “Despite ongoing pressure on their spending, consumers were clearly eager to celebrate Christmas with friends and families in the special environments that pubs and bars provide. While trading conditions remain challenging, we can be cautiously optimistic that these positive trends will continue into early 2024, despite the pressures of reduced spending and Dry January.” 


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