Off-trade growth slowed but remained strong as lockdown ended

Off-trade growth stalled at the start of December as consumers flocked back to on-trade venues – where possible - when lockdown restrictions lifted.

Nielsen data for the week to December 2 shows growth for the off-trade hit its lowest level since the end of October.

Robert Hallworth, Nielsen's client delivery team leader, said: “That said, value growth for the off-trade is still strong at 17%. Beer sales grew 27% and cider grew 18%. These are the only segments growing ahead of the total category this week as these still pick up a proportion of on-trade sales.”

The data also showed that the cream liqueurs category, which was experiencing growth in the past weeks driven by promotions, only grew one per cent, with a one per cent decline in grocery multiples but a 64% increase in impulse.

Flavoured vodka is still the fastest growing category (up 86%) driven by impulse performance. Sales through the impulse sector for this category are up by 182% compared to the same week in 2019.

CGA data for the same week via its Coffer Peach Business Tracker show sales were well down even in the sites that were able to open under Tier 1 and 2 restrictions.

Its latest report stated: “Total sales across the sector were down 67.9% on the corresponding week last year, with just 53% of sites open for business. But as well as preventing sites across large parts of the country reopening, the new tier regulations in England and continuing restrictions in Scotland and Wales also limited trade in businesses that were open. Like-for-like sales in those businesses were collectively down 44.7% on the same week in 2019.

“Total sales for managed wet-led sites were down 76.4% against last year, with like-for-like sales in the 51% of pubs that were trading 52.9% down.

Group-owned food-led pubs and pub restaurants performed marginally better, with total sales down 75.3%, with like-for-like sales in the 62% of sites open down 48.5%.

“Restaurant chains, many of which benefitted from take-out and delivery operations, had 52% of their sites open and recorded total sales down 51.6%, with like-for-likes in those restaurants open down 30.2%.”

It also showed bar operators only managed to open 40% of their sites, with total sales down 86.2%.

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