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‘Tis the season to plan for a very merry On Premise



Suppliers and operators generated strong festive trading last year despite the cost of living crisis, CGA by NIQ’s Christmas Report 2023 flags what they can do to have another happy Christmas in 2024.


Research for the 2023 Christmas Report found that nearly three quarters (73%) of consumers visited a licensed venue over the festive season. It helped to create high single-digit sales growth through both the CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker and the CGA Daily Drinks Tracker.

 

However, the number of people going out fell by five percentage points year-on-year, as high inflation put pressure on spending. Nearly all (97%) consumers told CGA they had been affected by rising costs to some extent, and four of the top five reasons for not going out over Christmas related to the cost of living in some way.

 

Nevertheless, most consumers remain keen to eat and drink out whenever money allows. When asked what they would prioritise over Christmas if their disposable income fell, 29% stated that visits to the On Premise would remain in their top priorities, demonstrating how important the sector is for consumers over the festive season.

 

CGA’s 2023 Christmas Report also highlights the most popular occasions and dates for festive drinks and meals, indicating where to focus attention while planning for 2024’s festive period. Food-led visits were the priority in 2023, with numbers visiting restaurants and food-focused pubs rising year-on-year by four and one percentage points respectively. Visits to bars and drinking pubs fell by four and two percentage points.

 

These channel shifts extended a trend that was in play throughout 2023: a movement away from late-night visits in favour of earlier and lower tempo occasions. Well over half of consumers said they went out for relaxed or quiet drinks (57%) or casual meals (56%)—nearly double the number who went out for a special occasion (30%). However, big festive occasions remain pivotal, and Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and 23 December were the three top dates in people’s diaries.


Matt Meek, CGA by NIQ Senior Client Manager, said “Our report shows eating and drinking out remains at the heart of Christmas in Britain—even during a cost of living crisis. But while many consumers spent freely, the increase in people staying at home is a reminder that visits can never be taken for granted. If inflation and interest rates ease, these people will hopefully feel more money in their pockets as the year goes on, which could make 2024 the best festive season since before COVID-19. Strategies will need to build on the lessons learned in 2023 and pinpoint exactly where, when and why people go out in December—and our research provides the ideal foundations for success.”


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