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January drinks sales down from pre-pandemic levels

Hospitality continues to suffer the effects of the pandemic with drinks sales in British pubs, bars and restaurants down 11% in the week to 22 January 2022 compared with the same period in 2019, the CGA Drinks Recovery Tracker has found.

The first two weeks of 2022 also saw a decrease in sales compared with pre-pandemic levels, down from 2019 by 18% and 12% respectively.

This is an improvement, however, on the sales figures in the last three weeks of 2021, which were down by a quarter (25%) compared with those seen prior to Covid-19.

In Scotland and Wales, which have seen tighter Covid restrictions during the start of this year, sales were short by 25% and 24% respectively, according to The Morning Advertiser.

CGA managing director, UK and Ireland, Jonathan Jones, said: “It’s been a very challenging start to 2022 in the hospitality sector, further weakening drinking-out businesses that suffered a collapse in sales over Christmas.”

CGA’s breakdown by category shows the biggest slump in wine (18%) as well as beer and cider (13%), while spirits sales were exactly level with pre-pandemic figures.

Despite the drop in drinks sales over the first few weeks of this year, some industry experts remain hopeful as restrictions continue to lift.

The UK government announced on 24 January that international visitors to the UK who are vaccinated against Covid-19 will no longer be required to test on arrival. This news was welcomed by UKHospitality.

Commenting, Kate Nicholls, CEO, UKHospitality, said: “This is a sensible and pragmatic step towards normality, given the encouraging fall in cases, the general easing of restrictions and given the UK’s position as a leading destination for international tourists and as a major business and commerce hub.

“This is a very welcome shot in the arm for hotels and tourism-reliant businesses, as we learn to live with the virus.  It will deliver much-needed confidence for international travellers destined for the UK.  Our hospitality and tourism industries have endured extremely challenging times and our hope is that this marks the start of a more benign phase for both society and business.

“It comes at the start of what can be a very positive year for the UK economy and for tourism particularly, given the calendar ahead which includes the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the Commonwealth Games.  With the right conditions and support, this industry can help to drive the recovery, to growth and job creation, and reassert the UK’s position as a leading destination.

The new rules will come into operation at 4am on the 11th of February, and will apply to all inbound visitors to the UK, including UK citizens returning from overseas travel.

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