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Strong wine sales buck on-trade drinks trend

As summer draws to a close, wine has proven increasingly popular in UK pubs, restaurants, and bars, but spirits sales continue to slump, according to CGA by NIQ’s Daily Drinks Tracker.

In the week from 27 August to 2 September, average drinks sales in managed venues were 0.2% ahead of the equivalent period last year.

The best performing category was wine, which has been the case for much of this year. Sales of wine were 6% above those of the same week in 2022.

By contrast, year-on-year on-trade sales for the spirits category, which did so well in 2021 and 2022 as drinkers toasted the post-Covid-19 lockdown reopening of bars, were 7% down.

Cider was down by 0.5%, soft drinks by 2%, but beer sales were up by 4%. The latter figure has been partially attributed to the Liam Smith vs Chris Eubank boxing match, which drew punters to the pub on Saturday 2 September.

One issue that did cause problems and may explain the relatively modest year-on-year growth was the rail strike – something that has been a major issue for the hospitality industry over the last year – as many customers were left unable to travel for food and drink.

Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, attributed wine’s performance to its pairing potential: “Almost two months of disappointing summer weather have been bad news for drinks sales, but the more positive impact on food sales has at least sustained wine’s impressive revival.”

“This week’s heatwave and more good forecasts should make September a better month for pubs and bars, as well as beer and cider suppliers as we move towards the final quarter of the year,” Jones added.

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