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Young's County Arms, London SW18
While consumer confidence is currently uncertain, Christmas out-of-home food and drink sales are still likely to echo those of 2016 when fewer people went out, but those that did went out more often and spent more.

According to CGA, drinks sales through the on-trade, during an average four weeks of 2016, were worth £1.8bn, but in the four weeks to Christmas this figure rose to £2.4bn, a net difference of £562m.

Last year, 75% of all food-led Christmas occasions involved at least one alcoholic drink, compared with 51% at any point in the year.

The total number of visits was up 8% to 211 million demonstrating that those who are going out are making more trips and spending more.

The average spend in a pub over the festive period is £43.89, £59.23 in a restaurant, and £63.41 in a bar.

Pubs and bars remain the hub for out of home festive occasions with 74 % of consumers visiting pubs, and 70% saying they visit restaurants.

Competition for footfall is becoming more challenging – suppliers and retailers need to attract more people back to the on-trade by driving value for experience through their drinks offer as 60% of consumers only visit one outlet when they do go out.

Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve visits to the on trade are down but visit growth is driven by early December and two ‘Mad Friday’s’ before Christmas.

This year, Christmas falls on a Monday and New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday so the trade has extra opportunity for increases sales. Peak hot-spots are likely to be 9-10th December, 15-17th December and the long weekend in the run-up to Christmas day (21-25th).

Phillip Montgomery, CGA client director, commented, “Last year consumer confidence was muted pre-Brexit. This year consumer confidence is still shaky so it’s unclear if consumers will rein-in spending or want to treat themselves.”

(source: CGA)