Consumers still favour Ireland’s on trade despite cost of living crisis

With up to 60% of consumers in Ireland are seeing a significant increase in the cost of living over the past year

Many Irish consumers have curtailed their on trade outings due to rising expenses but a significant number still eagerly opt for dining and drinking out when possible (Photo by Anete Lusina via Pexels)

Playing to win in the Irish on trade CGA by NIQ’s on trade Consumer Insights report, reveals that 60% of consumers in Ireland have seen a significant increase in the cost of living over the past year, with three in 10 seeing a severe impact on their finances. With tightened purse strings, consumers are more intent on managing their finances when visiting the channel.

The research shows that consumers intend to economise when dining out, with two in five looking for more budget-friendly options when visiting the on trade. In Ireland, ‘value for money’ means getting what you pay for, and this should be considered in brand activations and service delivery. Highlighting the quality and experience is essential, as 40% of consumers associate value for money with good quality, and most judge quality based on taste and experience.

CGA’s sales data shows spending on drinks held up well in 2023, with spikes over the warmer summer months. However, there were dips in months including February, when the aftermath of Christmas reduced people’s discretionary spending.

CGA’s Consumer Pulse surveys also showed a slight fall in the frequency of visits last November, as consumers saved up money for festive occasions.

Around a third of consumers visited bars and restaurants at least weekly over the 2022 festive period. Throughout last year, the percentage of consumers decreasing their on trade spending was higher than those increasing it.

Despite the current economic climate, there is still an opportunity for suppliers and operators to drive consumer spend. The report reveals that eating and drinking out remains a key part of consumers’ lives (68%), and a proportion of consumers (24%) say they will continue to go out to visit the channel even when short of cash, demonstrating the high value they place on the channel.

Sian Brennan, client director, CGA Ireland, said: “Consumer demand for the special experiences provided by pubs, bars and restaurants remains high, and our research points to a likely loosening of spending over Christmas, despite pressure on disposable incomes. But the cost of living crisis has undoubtedly raised people’s expectations, and venues will need to deliver consistently good experiences and value for money to sustain footfall over the crucial festive period.”

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