The cost of living crisis and poor weather held down drinks sales in the first full week of March after a solid first two months of 2023.
CGA by NIQ’s latest Drinks Recovery Tracker shows average sales in the week to last Saturday (11th March) were 3% behind the equivalent week in March 2022. This is the first week that sales have fallen below the levels of last year, following growth of 25%, 2%, and 7% in the three previous weeks. With inflation currently in double digits, last week’s sales were even further behind in real terms.
Wet and chilly weather have made trading conditions harder for drinks-led operators in the first half of March. Year-on-year drops peaked at -6% and -9% on Wednesday and Thursday (8th and 9th March), but sales brightened a little on Friday (up 2%) before falling back (down 2%) on Saturday, thanks in part to the absence of a Six Nations game for England that day.
Category-wise, sales of beer, cider, and wine were all up by between 1% and 3% last week, while soft drinks were down 4% and spirits sales fell 13%. As occasions continue to shift towards lower tempo and the demographic mix of consumers in trade moves back towards where it was pre pandemic, long alcoholic drink categories are regaining some of the share they lost to spirits.
“After decent year-on-year growth for drinks sales in January and February, it has been a challenging start to spring,” said Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland.
“Pressure on disposable income, combined with a cold, wet start to the month, has taken a toll and the market will be hoping for better weather in the coming weeks to encourage people out to pubs and bars and loosen their spending.”
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